Orange County high school graduation rates have increased for the sixth straight year

Graduation rates for Orange County and the rest of California are up for the sixth year in a row, according to figures released this week by the state Department of Education.

In fact, of the OC students who started high school in the 2011-12 school year, 90 percent graduated with their class four years later. That’s up from 88.6 percent in 2014 and 87.5 percent in 2013.

Statewide, 82.3 percent graduated with their class in 2015, up from 81 percent the year before. Data reveals the biggest gains were made by English learners and migrant students.

“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,” State Superintendent of Public Schools Tom Torlakson said.

California’s rising rates mean 2,900 more students received their high school diplomas last year than in the previous year. Moreover, it marks six consecutive years of growth dating back to 2010, when a more sophisticated tracking system was put in place.   

State education officials say nearly every student subgroup calculated posted higher graduation rates in 2015. English Learners led the way with an increase of 4 percentage points, which is about three times the state average. The graduation rate among African Americans jumped 2.6 percentage points.

In Orange County, the graduation rate for English learners was 79.1 percent, nearly 10 points above the state average. The rate for socioeconomically disadvantaged students was 85.2 percent, which represents a nearly 3-point increase. By comparison, California’s graduation rate for socioeconomically disadvantaged students was up slightly to 77.7 percent.

Last year, the Legislature and the Governor suspended the California High School Exit Examination as a graduation requirement. State officials acknowledged that may have played a role in the increased graduation rate for 2015, but they also noted that rates have increased consistently since 2010.

“Statewide, our students are benefiting from the additional revenues flowing into our schools,” Torlakson added. “We are bringing back relevant and engaging classes in science, civics, arts, and Career Technical Education that were slashed during the Great Recession. I am also pleased to see the first signs of the narrowing of the pernicious and persistent achievement gap. But a lot of work remains, and our schools still need additional and stable resources.”

To view state, county, district and school graduation and dropout rates, visit the California Department of Education’s DataQuest website.