The Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) graduation rate rose in 2014-15 to 72.2 percent, a 2-point jump over the previous year according to figures released by the California Department of Education. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson also reported California’s 2015 cohort graduation rate climbed for the sixth year in a row to a record high, with the biggest jump taking place among English Learners and migrant students.
LAUSD’s graduation rate has increased nearly 10 percentage points since 2009-10, when the state started using four-year cohort graduation rates as a measure of accountability. At the same time, the dropout rate declined from nearly 25 percent to 16.7 percent.
“I am very proud of the work we are doing – not only in raising our graduation rates, but in preparing our graduates to enter college or the workforce,” said LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King. “Our students, parents, faculty and staff have worked together as a team, and they can take great satisfaction in this accomplishment.”
To determine the graduation rate, first-time ninth-graders are followed over the course of four years to determine which of them graduate on time. Students who transfer and re-enroll in other public schools in California are removed from the cohort. Students who enter the district after ninth grade become part of the cohort.
Graduation rates have risen for all major subgroups in LAUSD since 2009-10, with double-digit jumps among Latino and African-American students. African-American students’ graduation rates increased by 13.3 percentage points and Latino students by 10.8 points. Although there have been fluctuations in the last five years, rates for English-learners went up by 10.3 points and students with disabilities by 13 points.
In addition, 24 schools in local districts throughout LAUSD had graduation rates in 2014-15 of 90 percent or higher. Two schools – Roosevelt Math/Science Magnet and Harbor Teacher Preparatory Academy – recorded rates of 100 percent.
“While I am pleased with our progress, we need to recommit with urgency to graduating each and every one of our students,” said School Board President Steve Zimmer. “We will continue to provide high-quality choices and personalized instruction that keeps our students engaged while preparing them for life after graduation.”
Among all students in the state who started high school in 2011–12, 82.3 percent graduated with their class in 2015, up 1.3 percentage points from the year before, which means approximately 2,900 more students received their high school diploma last year than the year before.
“This is encouraging news any way you look at it, especially since the increase is occurring as we are introducing much more rigorous academic standards,” Torlakson said. “We are bringing back relevant and engaging classes in science, civics, arts, and Career Technical Education that were slashed during the Great Recession.”
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