California's high school graduation rate increased in 2014 for the fifth year in a row, but it remained lower than results seen locally, according to data released April 28 by the state's Department of Education.
The state's graduation rate in 2014 was 80.8%, up 0.4 percentage points from the year before but below marks posted in Alameda County (82.8%) and the Pleasanton Unified School District (95.7%) in 2014.
"Our record high graduation rate is great news, especially since it is occurring at the same time we are raising academic standards," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. "This is more evidence that the dramatic changes taking place in our schools are gradually helping to improve teaching and learning in every classroom. We have raised academic standards, started online testing, given local districts more flexibility in spending, and provided more resources to students who need it most."
The 2014 graduate rate measures students who started high school in 2010 and graduated with their class, Torlakson said.
In 2014, PUSD saw its high school graduation rate increase by 0.4% and its dropout rate decrease by 0.1% while also seeing its population increase by two students compared to 2013, according to figures provided by the California Department of Education (CDE).
"We are proud of our students' accomplishments and thank our staff for their dedication and commitment," said Pleasanton schools superintendent Parvin Ahmadi.
Of those local students who did not graduate with their class, 2% dropped out, 1.7% are still enrolled in school, 0.5% were in non-diploma special education programs and 0.2% passed the GED test, according to the CDE's data.
In the school-by-school comparison, Foothill High posted the highest graduation rate at 98%, followed by Amador Valley High at 97.2%. Data for Village and Horizon high schools were not released.
Along with the rise in the graduation rate, the state's dropout rate also rose slightly to 11.6% in 2014, up 0.2 of a percentage point. By comparison, the percentage of students still in school but who have not graduated declined 0.5 of a percentage point from the year before and stands at 6.9 percent.
Statewide, of the students who did not graduate with their class, 0.2% passed the GED test and 0.6% are non-diploma special education students, Torlakson said.
The school district's graduation rates for African American (82.4%) and Hispanic students (88%), as well as English learners (87.8%), climbed faster than the statewide average.
"These results should not be a surprise to anyone as we have worked hard to engage all students and close the opportunity gap. I believe all means all and that should be reflected in our actions and outcomes," said Ahmadi. "I have a dream that someday no one will be able to distinguish between various groups of students' achievements related to their ethnic, socio-economic background, native language or gender."
California's 2014 graduation rate for African American students was 68.1%, unchanged from the year before. The rate for Hispanic students was 76.4%, up 0.7 percentage points from the year before.
Pleasanton's neighboring school district, San Ramon Valley Unified, had a graduation rate of 98.3% in 2014.
In Alameda County, Piedmont City Unified School District had the highest 2014 graduation rate, at 100%, according to state data.
Graduation and dropout rates for counties, districts, and schools across California were calculated based on four-year cohort information using the state's California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS). Cohort means the same groups of students were followed for four years in this data collection. This is the fifth time this cohort information was calculated, meaning data may only be compared accurately over the five-year period from 2009-10 to 2013-14. Prior to 2009-10, graduation and dropout rates used different calculation systems. Cohort graduation rates are used to determine whether schools met their targets for increasing the graduation rate for Adequate Yearly Progress reporting under the federal accountability system.
To view state, county, district, and school graduation and dropout rates, view the CDE's DataQuest webpage.