In front of a crowd of cheering students at Woodland High School north of Sacramento, state Schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson delivered the good news:

California’s high school graduation rate is at an all-time high.

Data released on Tuesday show 83 percent of high school seniors are now graduating — up nearly 10 percent since 2010.

This is the seventh consecutive year the state’s graduation rate has increased.

“You can be proud,” Torlakson told Woodland High students. “We’re going to keep going up.”

The most important finding based on the latest state graduation data? More at-risk students are also finishing school.

State education officials credit California’s Local Control Funding Formula, implemented four years ago.

Under the funding system, the state has been pumping additional revenue into school districts with large numbers of low-income students, English learners and foster youth.

District officials also have the power to spend that money on programs they believe work for their students — from tutoring to career technical education programs.

“We don’t micromanage and tell districts how to spend the money, but we have done a lot to concentrate state resources where needs are greatest,” Torlakson said.

At Woodland High, the additional state revenue is paying for more Advanced Placement courses, tutoring and intervention programs.

A new team of counselors also help students academically and emotionally.

“If you need help, you go to them and they’ll move their schedule around to help you,” says Woodland High School senior Cassidy Shriner.

Many Bay Area schools have adopted similar programs.

In San Francisco Unified, the graduation rate increased slightly to 86 percent.

San Jose Unified’s grad rate hovers at 87 percent, and the district continues to graduate many more Latinos and English learners.

But it’s not a completely rosy picture for California.

School districts like Oakland Unified are making gains, but overall graduation rates are still far too low.

Persistent achievement gaps also remain among black and Latino students and their white and Asian counterparts.

Federal education officials are auditing the accuracy of the state’s graduation rates — but the California Department of Education says it stands by its calculations.

In addition, critics say the graduation rate increase is partly because the state has suspended its high-stakes exit exam, which means seniors no longer have to pass that test in order to graduate.

California’s High School Graduation Rate Soars 12 April,2017Ana Tintocalis
  • Spencer Binsfeld

    this article is very interesting that we as a state, are making moves to move up in academia and have a higher success rate in graduating our students with a high school diploma. yes there are some cities in California that are staying the same, but if for the majority these schools are doing good then we are spending our education fiances in the right place. at the end of this article it concerns me that they are questioning the calculations of the high school success rate. if they are questioning the calculations then i think there is something false about the success rate of Californians having a higher graduating rate for high school diplomas #mycmstargs @laczkoword

  • virgil

    The real test is when they get their diplomas….will they be able to read them?

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor