Tulare County schools graduate students at higher rate than state

Tulare had highest district wide graduation rate in 2017; Strathmore schools graduated the highest percent of students

By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN

TULARE COUNTY – Local high schools are graduating students at a higher rate than the state average. 

Tulare County’s four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate was 88.7% for the 2016-17 school year, higher than the statewide average of 86.6%, according to numbers released by the California Department of Education last month. 

Tulare Joint Union High School District had the highest district wide graduation rate at 93.7% while Alpaugh Unified had the lowest at 73.9%. The second lowest was Exeter Unified at 83.4%. Harmony Magnet Academy in Strathmore was the only high school with a graduation rate of 100% while its sister campus, Strathmore High School, wasn’t far behind with 98.5%. Of the traditional high schools, Orosi High School and El Diamante High School in Visalia tied for the highest graduation rate of 98.7%. Among continuation high schools, Citrus High School in Porterville posted the highest rate at 73.6% while Deep Creek Academy had the lowest at 26.9%.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said the most recent high school graduation rates are under a new methodology that was adopted in response to a federal audit. As part of this new methodology, three significant changes were implemented for calculating 2017 high school graduation rates: (1) Students who receive an adult education high school diploma are no longer considered regular high school graduates, and (2) students who pass the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) are no longer considered regular high school graduates, and (3) students who transfer to adult education programs or a community college will remain in the denominator for the cohort calculation.

Using this new methodology, which reduces the number of students counted as graduates, 82.7 percent of California students who started high school as ninth graders in 2013–14 graduated on-time four years later in 2017. Under the old methodology, the statewide graduation rate was 83.8 percent in 2016.

Overall, the number of graduates increased from 2016 by over 900 for a total of 408,124 students. In addition, the number of students who dropped out in 2017 decreased by over 2,200 compared to last year.

In order to have the most recent data available for accountability, CDE has expedited the timeline for producing graduation rates for this year. Therefore, these new graduation rates for 2017 will be compared to the graduation rates for 2018 which will be released publicly in December, in time to be included in the Fall 2018 Dashboard.

One useful new feature in the updated graduation report is that it shows the number of students who have met all the (a-g) requirements for admission to a University of California (UC)/California State University (CSU). In California’s high school graduating class for 2017, one out of two graduates, nearly 50 percent, met UC/CSU requirements for admission.

“California continues to make excellent progress in education,” said Torlakson. “The percentage of our graduates eligible for the University of California and the California State University is soaring. In addition, more of our students are passing Advanced Placement ® exams and the number demonstrating proficiency in a foreign language has quadrupled since 2011.”

Since 2007, there has been more than a 30 percent increase in high school graduates eligible for UC and more than a 53 percent increase in CSU eligibility. In addition, there has been a significant upward trend in graduation rates. Using the old method of calculating rates, they moved from 74.4 percent for the class of 2010 to 83.8 percent for the class of 2016. In Tulare County, 43.2% of graduates met UC/CSU requirements. Dinuba Unified topped the list with 94.3% of its graduates meeting the requirements while Alpaugh Unified was the lowest at 5.8%. 

In addition, another useful new feature in the updated graduation report is that it shows the number of high school graduates earning a State Seal of Biliteracy, which recognizes graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing one or more languages in addition to English. In 2017, 44,594 graduates earned the State Seal of Biliteracy statewide. In Tulare County, just 5.2% of graduates were considered biliterate. Farmersville Unified and Woodlake Unified topped the list of districts whose graduates received the Seal of Biliteracy with 16% and 15% for the class of 2017. 

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