Just over 90 percent of high school seniors are graduating from schools in the Wm. S. Hart Union High School District, according to figures released today by the California Department of Education. The local graduation rate compares with 76.7 percent countywide and 79.7 percent across the state.
The graduation rate is above 95 percent when surveying the district’s comprehensive high schools, according to David LeBarron, Hart District director of curriculum.
The District’s dropout rates also compare well to county and state averages, with a one-year dropout rate of 2.7 percent for the Hart District compared to 6.5 percent for Los Angeles County and 5.3 percent for the state. The four-year dropout rate, comparing students who enrolled in the ninth grade and those who did not receive a diploma, was 10.5 percent for the Hart District, compared to 24.6 percent for Los Angeles County and 20.1 percent for the state of California.
The four-year dropout rates are less reliable than the one-year rates, since California has adopted a Statewide Student Identifier number which tracks a student who moves from school to school within the state. Before the 2007-08 school year, districts had to spend a considerable amount of time and effort trying to determine where students went when they left the district.
“The dropout rates are much more reliable with the state ID number—much more scientific,” LeBarron explained. He added that the state number works beautifully to track students who move within the state of California, but is less reliable when students move out of state or out of the country.
Like the state and county, the Hart District lists a higher dropout rate for Hispanic and African American students, compared with white and Asian. The one-year dropout rates are 1.8 percent for white, 4.3 percent for Hispanic, 7.2 percent for African American and .3 percent for Asian. LeBarron notes, however, that the small number of African American students in the district skews the percentage rate for that population.
The four-year dropout rates are 6.9 percent for white students, 16.9 percent for Hispanics, 25.9 percent for African American and 1.1 percent for Asian. Compared to dropout rates for the 2007 graduating class, the dropout percentages for all students have decreased, with some groups seeing more than one percentage point decrease in the one-year rate and almost four percentage points in the four-year rate. The small number of African American students again makes that comparison difficult, since one or two students could alter the percentage rates significantly, according to LeBarron.
He added that the improving dropout rates may be due to better tracking with the use of student ID numbers. Year-to-year comparisons will be much more accurate in future years when the ID number system has been in place to track students for all four years of high school.