SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The class of 2010 at San Diego County high schools had a 15.9 percent dropout rate, below the statewide figure of 18.2 percent, according to figures released today by the state Department of Education.
The dropout figures are the first from a new system that tracked students beginning when they started ninth grade in the 2006-07 school year and following them as they left, transferred and sometimes returned.
The more transitory student population could not be accounted for with the old methodology, according to the Department of Education. Education officials stressed that because the methodology is different, the data cannot be compared to previous years' dropout numbers.
In San Diego County, 73.8 percent of the 43,500 ninth-graders in 2006-07 graduated, compared to 74.4 percent statewide. About 8 percent were still enrolled when the data was taken, while the remainder acquired a certificate of completion or finished in special education.
For ethnic sub-groups:
-- black students had a graduation rate of 59.2 percent and dropout rate of 26.7 percent;
-- Asians had a graduation rate of 87.1 percent and a dropout rate of 8.4 percent;
-- Hispanics had a graduation rate of 66.1 percent, while 19.7 percent dropped out; and
-- white students had a graduation rate of 83.2 percent, and a dropout rate of 10.5 percent.
In the San Diego Unified School District, 74.9 percent of the 2006-07 ninth-graders graduated, while 12.8 percent dropped out. Ethnic subgroups in the SDUSD generally fared better than the county as a whole.
"Ensuring that students graduate is one of the key focuses of our district," said Nellie Meyer, SDUSD's deputy superintendent for academics. "While we are encouraged by these statistics, it reminds us we must redouble our effort to ensure that all our students graduate."
San Diego Unified's dropout rate ranked second in the state for large districts, while the graduation rate was fourth. The district's efforts to retain students reaches down to the sixth grade, because studies show that pupils who miss more than 10 days in that year have a higher dropout rate, officials said.
In suburban districts:
-- Carlsbad Unified, graduation rate of 92.4 percent, dropout rate of 4.9 percent;
-- Escondido Union, graduation rate of 86 percent, dropout rate of 7.3 percent;
-- Grossmont Union, graduation rate of 78.7 percent, dropout rate of 11.5 percent;
-- Poway Unified, graduation rate of 95 percent, dropout rate of 2.4 percent;
-- San Marcos Unified, graduation rate of 79.4 percent, dropout rate of 16.7 percent;
-- Sweetwater Union, graduation rate of 77.6 percent, dropout rate of 9.6 percent; and
-- Vista Unified, graduation rate of 82.5 percent, dropout rate of 11.7 percent.
Rates are generally better at traditional schools because students identified as at-risk for dropping out are often transferred to county-run recovery programs, according to the state Department of Education. If they drop out anyway, it is attributed to the program, not the original school.
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