Under new state methodology for calculating graduation rates, Turlock Unified School District saw a significant decrease in numbers from previous years with the Class of 2017, but the district also exceeded the percentage of students who received diplomas throughout both the county and the state — the latter of which dropped for the first time in eight years.
The new methodology, which reduces the number of students counted as graduates, was adopted in response to a federal audit and includes three significant changes that were implemented to calculate 2017 high school graduation rates: students who receive an adult education high school diploma are no longer considered regular high school graduates, students who pass the California High School Proficiency Exam are no longer considered regular high school graduates and students who transfer to adult education programs or a community college will remain in the denominator for the cohort calculation.
Among the 1,255 students who began high school in 2013-2014 in TUSD, 1,148 graduated in 2017, which is a 91.5 graduation rate. This comes as a three percent decrease from the Class of 2016’s graduation rate, which was calculated under the state’s old methodology, yet surpasses the 2016-2017 rate in Stanislaus County, which was 84 percent, and California, which was 82.7 percent.
Turlock’s two public high schools, Turlock High School and Pitman High School, both increased their graduation rates in 2017. Both saw 97 percent of students receive a diploma, with THS improving on its 2016 rate of 95.8 percent and PHS building on its previous rate of 95.4 percent, both of which were calculated under the old methodology.
TUSD wasn’t the only local school district to exceed county and state averages in 2016-2017 as Hilmar Unified School District, Delhi Unified School District and Denair Unified School District each saw 95 percent, 94.5 percent and 89.2 percent of their students graduate, respectively. While Denair’s graduation rate for the Class of 2017 was slightly closer to county and state averages, the rate for solely Denair High School was 100 percent, with all 70 students receiving their diplomas.
One new, useful feature of the state’s new methodology is that it shows the number of high school graduates who have met all the requirements for admission to a University of California or California State University. In California’s high school graduating class of 2017, one out of two graduates — nearly 50 percent — met UC or CSU requirements for admission.
TUSD graduated a total of 452 students who met those requirements — 205 of which came from THS, and 247 from PHS. Thirty-one graduates in Denair met the requirements for UC or CSU, 67 met the requirements in Delhi and 45 met the requirements in Hilmar.
“California continues to make excellent progress in education,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said. “The percentage of our graduates eligible for the University of California and the California State University is soaring. In addition, more of our students are passing Advanced Placement exams and the number demonstrating proficiency in a foreign language has quadrupled since 2011.”
Since 2007, there has been more than a 30 percent increase in high school graduates throughout the state eligible for UC and more than a 53 percent increase in CSU eligibility. In addition, there has been a significant upward trend in graduation rates. Using the old method of calculating rates, they moved from 74.4 percent for the class of 2010 to 83.8 percent for the class of 2016.
Overall, the number of graduates in the state increased from 2016 by over 900 for a total of 408,124 students. In addition, the number of students who dropped out in 2017 decreased by over 2,200 compared to last year.
Despite the encouraging numbers, there is still progress to be made, Torlakson said.
“We have a long way to go and need help from everyone—teachers, parents, administrators and community members—to narrow these gaps,” he said.