More than a third of California’s African American public high school students dropped out before graduation day, a startling number and one that’s on the rise, according to 2009 data released Tuesday.
The 37 percent African American dropout rate, up three percentage points from the prior year, was far above that of any other ethnic subgroup. Hispanic students had the second highest rate at 27 percent.
Locally, San Francisco cautiously celebrated a 9 percent overall dropout rate, a stark contrast to Oakland’s 40 percent, numbers still under review for accuracy.
The statewide statistics highlight a pervasive achievement gap in test scores and graduation rates that persists despite focused efforts to boost the academic performance of black, Hispanic and low-income students, state education officials said.
Overall, 22 percent of state students dropped out of high school, according to the new data, up from 19 percent the year before.
[State schools Superintendent Jack] O’Connell blamed the increase on state budget cuts, which have resulted in larger class sizes, fewer art and music classes, cuts to sports, fewer counselors and less access to career/technical courses–all programs that can help keep struggling or at-risk students in school.
In addition, drastic cuts to summer school have prevented students from catching up on credits during the break, meaning they can’t graduate on time and too often give up.