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Local graduation rates surpass county, state averages
California grad rates rise for seventh consecutive year
graduation rates
Angelina Orozco was just one of the 457 students at Turlock High School to receive a diploma in 2016. Turlock High School saw an increase in its graduation rate for the 2015-16 school year. Last year the school recorded a 95.8 percent graduation rate, which is an increase from 94.7 percent in 2014-15. - photo by Journal file photo

Turlock Unified School District not only saw a modest increase in graduation rates from previous years with the Class of 2016, but the school district also significantly exceeded the percentage of students receiving their diplomas throughout both the county and the state — the latter of which has continued to climb for the seventh year in a row.

Among the 1,103 students who began high school in 2012-13 in TUSD, 1,042 graduated in 2016, which is a 94.5 percent graduation rate. This comes as a small bump of .01 percent from the Class of 2015’s graduation rate and surpasses the 2015-16 graduation rate in Stanislaus County, which was 83.8 percent, and California, which was 83.2 percent.

Just like TUSD, Turlock High School also saw an increased graduation rate during the 2015-16 school year. Last year the school recorded a 95.8 percent graduation rate, which is an increase from 94.7 percent in 2014-15. The school’s dropout rate increased, however, going from 2.1 percent the previous year to 3.4 percent.

However, TUSD’s other major high school, Pitman High School, experienced a decrease in graduation rates with 95.4 percent of students receiving their diploma in 2015-16, down from 97 percent in 2014-15. Despite this, the school managed to improve its dropout rate to 0.6 percent from 1.3 percent the previous year.

TUSD was not the only local school district to exceed county and state averages in 2015-16 as Hilmar Unified School District and Delhi Unified School District each saw 95.4 percent and 95.1 percent graduation rates, respectively. While Denair Unified School District’s graduation rate for the Class of 2016 was similar to county and state averages at 82.3 percent, the rate for solely Denair High School was 97.1 percent, meaning that 66 of their 68 students graduated in 2015-16.

“Student graduation rates reflect the dedication of our community and schools to the education and success of our students,” said DUSD Superintendent Aaron Rosander. “We are proud as well of our teachers and staff who continue to raise their academic rigor that best prepares today’s students for their challenges that await them in college and their professional careers.”

Although its total was exceeded by some local school districts, California’s graduation rate still managed a record high for 2015-16, marking the seventh consecutive year that the rate has increased. The biggest increases were among English learner graduation rates, which rose by 2.7 percentage points, and African American and Latino students, who increased by 1.8 percentage points and 1.5 percentage points, respectively. 

Among 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 that 4,917 more students received their high school diploma last year than the year before. In addition to the significant increases seen by English learners, African American and Latino students, almost every student subgroup also rose in 2016.

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

“This is great news for our students and families,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “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. 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,” continued Torlakson.

While Torlakson was quick to congratulate the state for continuing to achieve increased graduation rates year after year, he also cautioned that much work remains, especially to narrow the achievement gap between Asian and white students and Latino and African American students.

According to the California Department of Education, the latest statistics show the gap has narrowed. For African American students, the graduation rate reached a record high of 72.6 percent in 2016, 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 big 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.

“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,” said Torlakson.