Grad rate falls 5 percentage points in a decade
Fifteen states saw a decline in their high school graduation rates from 1997 to 2007, and California, with a drop of 4.7 percentage points, from 67.4 to 62.7 percent, was the second worst, behind Nevada, according to Education Week’s latest Diplomas Count.
The national graduation rate of 68.8 percent in 2007 was 3.1 percentage points higher than in 1997, though there was a slight decrease from 2006. Although California’s graduation rate lagged the national average in 2007 by a full 6.1 percentage points, each of its major racial and ethnic subgroups actually outperformed students nationwide in 2007.
- American Indian: California – 51.5%; U.S. average – 50.7%;
- Asian: California – 83.5%; U.S. average – 80.7%;
- Hispanic: California – 57%; U.S. average – 55.5%;
- African-American: California – 57%; U.S. average – 55.5%;
- White: California – 78.2%; U.S. average – 76.6%.
The reason is for the seeming discrepancy is that California has a much higher proportion of English learners – nearly one in four students, primarily Hispanics – than in other states, which lowers the state’s overall average.
There could be a number of reasons for the decline in the state’s graduation rate over the decade, including the institution of the high school exit exam for the class of 2006. However, Education Count also notes that California’s 13 course credit requirements for a standard diploma is among the lowest in the nation.