California High School Drop Out Rates Decrease; TUSD Reflects Trend

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As graduation rates throughout California public high schools continues to increase, the number of high school dropouts is correspondingly decreasing.

The Turlock Unified School District's graduation rates reflect a similar pattern. According to the California Department of Education, TUSD has seen a decrease in adjusted student dropouts over the past several years.

In 2009-10, the district had a total of 140 dropouts. While that number slightly rose in 2010-11 to 154 students, it was significantly less in 2011-12 when the district lost 128 students.

Although the numbers for the most recent school year have not yet been released by the California Department of Education, TUSD Director of Student Services Gil Ogden says that the district continues to see the dropout rate decrease.

“We’re seeing our dropout rates go down, and students who are more highly engaged in the classroom and involved with their activities,” said Ogden. “More students are wanting to stay.”

According to Ogden, TUSD has implemented various credit recovery programs and opportunities for students who have fallen behind in their coursework. The programs look to get students back on track and reduce their chances of dropping out.

With one of the largest mentoring programs in the nation, TUSD also works closely with the California State University, Stanislaus Criminal Justice program. The program offers mentors to work alongside TUSD students with attendance and behavioral issues, keeping students in school.

“By keeping these students connected, and having their teachers more involved and getting to know them, it makes them want to stay in school,” said Ogden. “Statistics have always shown that students who are involved with a club or an activity are more likely to stay in school and do well.”

It’s not only TUSD that is witnessing graduation rates go up, but also a majority of California public schools. Throughout the State, nearly 8 out of 10 students, or 78.5 percent, who started high school in 2008-09 graduated with their class in 2012 – an increase of 1.4 percent from the year prior.

“There are great things happening in California’s schools every day and the upward climb of our graduation rate bears that out,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “While I am glad to announce that we are moving in the right direction, the fact remains that we must keep moving to ensure that every California student graduates ready to succeed in the world they will find outside of our classrooms.”

Dropout rates throughout California also saw a 1.5 percent decrease in 2012. Of the students who started high school in 2008-09, 13.2 percent dropped out statewide.

“The goal ultimately would be to have no dropouts and that’s what we’re striving for,” said Ogden. “We have a lot of great programs that are helping out with that, including the new BRIDGE program which is already half-full and we just started enrolling at-risk freshmen and sophomore students in that during June. It’s really great to see, and we’re excited.”

Graduation and dropout rates for counties, districts, and schools across California were calculated based on four-year cohort information using the state's California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System. To learn more about CALPADS, visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/sp/cl/.

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