The graduation rate at traditional high schools in San Mateo is on the upswing while dropout rates are dropping, according to data released this week by the state Department of Education.
San Mateo High has seen the biggest gains, upping its graduation rate almost 8 percentage points since the 2009-10 academic year and slashing the dropout rate from a daunting 15.5 percent to 6.1 percent.
Half Moon Bay High School, however, hasn't experienced as many gains. The graduation rate at Half Moon Bay High School has increased incrementally but the dropout rate has risen at a faster rate. See the graph below.
In Pacifica, Terra Nova High's graduation rate is holding steady at more than 95 percent, the highest in the area but the school's dropout rate has increased since 2009. And at Oceana High, the graduation rate fell from a three-year high of 91 perecent in 2009-10 to 85.7 percent last year but the dropout rate has more than doubled since then.
Hillsdale and Aragon high schools, on the other hand, have shown almost as much improvement over the same time span. Graduation rates increased by 7.2 and 7 percentage points, respectively. Hillsdale cut its dropout rate from 11 percent to 5.5 percent, and Aragon's fell from 5.5 percent to just 1.5 percent in the past three years.Dropout Rates
2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 Aragon High 5.5 4.3 1.5 Half Moon Bay High 4.3 5.2 6.7 Hillsdale High 11 10 5.5 Oceana High 3 10.9 7.6 San Mateo High 15.5 10.4 6.1 Terra Nova High 1.9 6.3 3.4
Overall, California's graduation rates rose while dropout rates declined, and San Mateo County schools had better marks than the state averages last year.
The state superintendent's office reported 78.5 percent of students statewide who started high school in 2008-2009 graduated last year. That was up 1.4 percentage points from the year before.
Among African-American students, 65.7 percent graduated with their class in 2012, up 2.9 points from the year before.
Among Hispanic students, 73.2 percent graduated in 2012, up 1.8 points from the year before.
There was a corresponding drop in the state's dropout rate.
The superintendent's office reported 13.2 percent of students who began high school in 2008-2009 dropped out. That was down 1.5 percent from the year before.
The dropout rate among African-American students dropped 3.1 points to 22.2 percent. Among Hispanic students, the dropout rate fell 2.1 points to 16.2 percent.
Another 8.3 percent of students were labeled as neither dropouts or graduate. They include special education students, students who passed the GED exam and those who are still in school.
State Superintendent Tom Torlakson said while the trend is positive, California schools still need to do more. He said he'd like to see the graduation rate top 80 percent in the near future and then reach 90 percent by 2020.
He commended local school officials for improving education despite budget cuts the past few years and the fact California is 49th in the nation in education funding.
"As I travel up and down the state, I see great things happening in California schools every day," said Torlakson.
Dean E. Vogel, president of the California Teachers Association, also viewed the data as positive.
“It’s hopeful news that California’s student graduation rate continues to improve despite record cuts to public education in recent years. Nearly eight out of 10 students who started high school in 2008 as the Great Recession hit our nation graduated in 2012," he said in a prepared statement. "... despite soaring class sizes, layoffs and program cuts over the past several years, teachers are proudly watching more of their students receive high school diplomas and a chance at college and a better future. That will always be good news."
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