San Diego schools boast highest big-city graduation rate in state

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Unified School District had the highest 2016-17 high school graduation rate among big-city districts in the state, according to data released Thursday by the California Department of Education.

The graduation rate for San Diego Unified’s class of 2017, 6,470 students, was 86.6 percent. That was ahead of the Long Beach and San Francisco unified school districts, which finished second and third in the state with 86.1 and 84.4 percent graduation rates, respectively.

This is the second consecutive year San Diego Unified has come out on top among large districts.

“San Diego Unified students have once again shown themselves to be true academic leaders,” Superintendent Cindy Marten said. “Thanks to their hard work and the support from our parents, teachers and administrators, we are building the kind of world-class education system our city deserves.”

More than 84 percent of black students graduated in 2017, second among large districts, according to San Diego Unified, while 82.3 percent of Latino students graduated, third in the state.

The graduation rate is calculated by taking the total number of students who start their high school career in the district, then adding students who move into the district during high school, and subtracting those who either move away from the district or transfer to a private or charter school within the district. The total number in the cohort is then divided by the number of “regular” graduates.

The statewide graduation rate for 2016-17 was 82.7 percent, down from the previous year’s 83.6 percent.

According to the Department of Education, the dip statewide and at districts across the state can be blamed in part on new methodology used to calculate graduation rates in response to a federal audit. Under the changes, students who earn an adult education high school diploma are no longer considered regular graduates, nor are students who pass the California High School Proficiency Exam. Students who transfer to adult education programs or a community college are also factored into the rate calculation under the new method, according to the state.