Superintendent Aguilar Kicks Off School Year With Moral Call to Action to Improve Graduation Rates
At a back to school press conference this morning new Superintendent Jorge Aguilar announced he is forming a Graduation Task Force in response to a three-year decline in graduation rates. Joined at Hiram Johnson High School by the Board of Education and dozens of community leaders, parents, students and advocates, Superintendent Aguilar asked the community to come together and work collaboratively with him in a “moral call to action” to address the inequities that lead to low graduation rates.
“We are choosing to talk about graduation rates,” said Superintendent Aguilar. “This is a moral issue. Our system has to work for all students not just those that understand how to navigate and how to advocate on their behalf. It has to work for any of our students irrespective of parental levels of involvement, engagement or empowerment.”
The district’s graduation rates drew criticism last year from parents and community members in what amounts to an almost five percent decline in graduation rates over the past three years. Furthermore, there are inequities in the graduation rates. For example, African-American and Hispanic students are graduating at lower rates than Asian-American and White students. Graduation rates are also lower among English Learners and Special Education students.
Aguilar, recently hired as Superintendent by the Board of Education, has built his reputation around the use of data and tracking systems to improve graduation rates and increase college preparedness. As Associate Superintendent of Fresno Unified, Aguilar created a system that increased graduation rates by almost 16 percent. He also cut dropout rates almost in half. Aguilar has made it clear that addressing inequities in graduation rates will be a priority for him as Superintendent.
“When our Board made the decision to hire Mr. Aguilar, we did so because of his proven ability to solve the same problems we are facing here in Sac City,” said Sacramento City Unified Board President Jay Hansen. “However, Superintendent Aguilar has made it clear to me, and to our Board and staff, that he cannot single-handedly improve our graduation rates. We need the community to join us in this effort.”
The Task Force will hold its first meeting on September 20th at the Serna Center. Superintendent Aguilar plans for the task force to conduct its work quickly, identify the impacts of low graduation rates and send recommendations for improving graduation rates to the Board in December 2017.
More details about the Graduation Task Force and its members are listed on the district’s website. If you would like to learn more about the Task Force and sign up to receive updates, please visit: www.scusd.edu/gradtaskforce.