SCUSD’s graduation rate increases, drop-out rate dramatically declines

e-Connections Post

Data released Monday by the California Department of Education shows that Sacramento City Unified’s graduation rate increased 5.6 percent in 2013 to 85.4 percent — 5 percent higher than the state average.

The data follows the “cohort” of students that started high school as freshmen in 2009-10. For that group, the drop-out rate was 5.9 percent, marking a dramatic improvement over the previous year’s rate of 11.5 percent.

“The numbers reflect the hard work of students and staff to prepare every student for college and careers,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Sara Noguchi. “SCUSD is truly a leader in student engagement and tireless service to families.”

Dr. Noguchi credited several key initiatives with helping kids stay focused: Linked Learning career pathways; online credit recovery; and social-emotional learning. 

SCUSD has expanded its Linked Learning program to include more than 20 career-themed pathways at high schools across the district. A big step up from vocational education of the past, Linked Learning offers students mentor-ships, internships and technical coursework to prepare them for college and work.

Online credit recovery is available to struggling students at the Sacramento Accelerated Academy and at before- and after-school courses at SCUSD high schools. The classes allow students to make up failed courses required for graduation without having to repeat the classes during the school day.

Social-emotional learning is changing the culture and climate of schools by providing opportunities for students to master life skills such as self-management, responsible decision-making and social awareness.

“By improving the graduation rates at our schools, we are giving students more post-high school choices and more opportunities to achieve their dreams,” Dr. Noguchi said.

Drop-out rates at all SCUSD high schools declined, and graduation rates increased or remained flat. Small high schools showed the most impressive results: The drop-out rate at Health Professions, for example, declined from 14.7 percent in 2012 to zero last year. Meanwhile, the graduation rate increased 17.1 percent from 80.9 to 98. Health Professions and the School of Engineering and Sciences now have the second highest graduation rates behind West Campus, which graduated 100 percent of its student cohort.

Similarly, the drop-out rate for The Met fell from 13.8 percent to 1.6 percent and the graduation rate climbed from 81 to 93.4.

Large, comprehensive high schools also showed big improvements. Hiram Johnson, Burbank and Rosemont all nearly cut their drop-out rates in half.