Triplicate Staff

County doing better than state as whole

More California high school students graduated in 2011 and fewer dropped out, with the biggest gains posted by Hispanic, black and English-learner students, the state Department of Education said last week.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said he was encouraged by the results, which put California's graduation rate at 76.3 percent, up 1.5 percent from 2010, and dropout rate at 14.4 percent, down by 2.2 percent, from 2010, but noted there was still much room for improvement.

"It's going in the right direction, but it's not where we want it to be," he said during a teleconference with reporters. "We want to be at 85andndash;90 percent."

In Del Norte County Unified School District, 84.6 percent of students who entered their freshman year in 2007 graduated in 2011. That is up slightly from 83 percent in 2010.

Nineteen students dropped out while some continued with their high

school education. Del Norte's dropout rate of 6.8 percent was much

lower than the state average, according to the CDE.

Del Norte's dropout rate decreased from 2010, when it was 8.7


Of those Del Norte graduates in 2011, 91.7 percent of Hispanic

students graduated in four years, as did 88 percent of Asian students.

Caucasians students had a slightly lower graduate rate of 83.6 percent.

Only 76.5 percent of American Indian students graduated in four years,

according to the CDE.

The dropout rate is higher for students enrolled in Del Norte County

Office of Education programs, which includes incarcerated students,

those on probation, alternative education and the charter schools.

Only 73.3 percent of those students graduated in 2011 after four

years of high school, and their dropout rate was 13.1 percent.

The difference between graduation and dropout rates is basically the

category of students who are taking longer than four years to earn a

diploma, special education students, and students working on equivalency


Statewide results for Hispanic, black, English learner and poor

students were higher than the overall average, which showed that

progress was being made in closing the so-called "achievement gap" in

which Asian and white students consistently outperform their

counterparts from other ethnic groups, Torlakson said.

Asian students posted the top graduation rate with 90 percent, while

black students fared the least well, with 63 percent.

English-learners reported the biggest gains - 3.8 percent more

graduated, while 4 percent fewer dropped out.

Hispanic students scored a 2.2 percent jump in graduation and 3

percent fewer left school, while 2.3 percent more black students earned a

diploma and 2 percent fewer dropped out.

The dropout numbers are only for high school students. Education

officials said a significant number of middle school students never make

it to high school, but they do not have those figures.

The report represents the second year that the state has tracked a

high school class from ninth through 12th grade in an effort to obtain

more accurate data on who makes it to graduation and who does not.

Staff writer Kelley Atherton contributed to this report.