CA Reports Record High School Graduation Rate at 82.3%


California’s graduation rate increased for the seventh consecutive year and was at a record high for the class of 2016, with 83.2 percent of seniors graduating, according to statistics released this week by the California Department of Education (CDE).

The biggest increases have taken place among English language learners (ELL) and African American and Latino students, the CDE said.

Among the cohort of students who started high school in 2012-13, 83.2 percent graduated with their class in 2016, up 0.9 percent from the year before. This increase means 4,917 more students received their high school diplomas last year than the year before.

The state’s graduation rate has increased 8.5 percentage points since the class of 2010 posted a 74.7 percent rate, the CDE said.

The graduation rate of almost every student subgroup calculated by the CDE also rose in 2016. The rate of increase among ELL was 2.7 percentage points; African Americans increased 1.8 percentage points; and Latino students increased by 1.5 percentage points.

“This is great news for our students and families,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a statement. “Graduation rates have gone up seven years in a row, reflecting renewed optimism and increased investments in our schools that have helped reduce class sizes; bring back classes in music, theater, art, dance, and science; and expand career technical education programs that engage our students with hands-on, minds-on learning.

“The increasing rates show that the positive changes in California schools are taking us in the right direction,” Torlakson said. “These changes, which I call the California Way, include teaching more rigorous and relevant academic standards, which provides more local control over spending and more resources to those with the greatest needs.”

However, Torlakson cautioned that much work remains. “We still have a long way to go and need help from everyone — teachers, parents, administrators, and community members — to keep our momentum alive so we can keep improving.”

A critical job, he said, is to keep working to narrow the achievement gap between white and Asian students and Latino and African American students. The latest statistics show the gap has narrowed. For African American students, the graduation rate reached a record high of 72.6 percent, up 1.8 percentage points from the year before and up 12.1 percentage points from 2010. For Hispanic or Latino students, the graduation rate climbed to a record high of 80 percent, up 1.5 percentage points from the year before and up 11.9 percentage points from 2010.

English learners saw a second consecutive year of significant increases with the graduation rate reaching 72.1 percent, up 2.7 percent from the previous year and up 15.7 percentage points from the class of 2010.

Along with the record rise in the graduation rate, fewer students dropped out of school, the CDE said. The dropout rate decreased from 10.7 percent in 2015 to 9.8 percent in 2016, down 0.9 of a percentage point.

The state dropout rate does not have a precise correlation with the graduation rate because some students are still pursuing a high school degree or its equivalent after four years, the CDE said. These students have neither graduated nor dropped out. Last year, 6.1 percent of students in the cohort were in that category, a decline of 0.2 percent from the year before.

To view and download state, county, district, and school graduation and dropout rates, visit the CDE's DataQuest site. Downloadable data sheets are available on the CDE Cohort Outcome Data web page.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].