(March 24, 2005) -- LBReport.com posts below a study by the Civil Rights Project of Harvard University that says CA's high school graduation rate was not 86.9% (as state officials claimed) but actually 71.3 % for 2002 (the most recent data studied)...and graduation rates for some minority students substantially lower -- Black: 56.6%, Latino: 60.3%. The study said the graduation rate for those it identified as White was 77/8%, and as Asian was 83.3%.
The study says LBUSD's graduation rate overall was 69.1%, ranking 4th among CA's ten largest school districts. (LBUSD has CA's third largest school enrollment).
The study lists LBUSD's graduation rates demographically as Black: 59.4%; Native Am: 61.1%; Latino: 62.6%; White: 78.7%; Asian: 82.7%.
In a section titled "Schools That Beat The Odds," the Harvard study lists two LBUSD High schools -- Poly and Jordan -- among 15 schools statewide "graduating a higher than expected percentage" of their students. The list was compiled from among schools "where at least 40% of students qualify for free lunch, where 25% or more of students are Black or Latino, and the average promoting power, averaged over three years (2000-2003), is at least 80%." The study put LB Poly at the top of the list with an average promoting power of 104% and LB Jordan at 85%.
LBUSD spokesman Chris Eftychiou said Poly and Jordan have interventions for students needing extra help: the Poly PAAL program (Poly Academy of Accelerated Learning for students low in school credits) and Jordan (a freshman academy, a separate campus just for freshman, creating a smaller school which helps improve reading and math skills.)
Mr. Eftychiou noted that in estimating LBUSD's overall dropout rate as roughly 69%, the study methodology assumed that if a student can't be tracked, he/she is a dropout...and LBUSD has a highly mobile population.
The study said the L.A. Unified School District -- CA's largest school district -- had a graduation rate of 45.3%.
Release of the study was timed to coincide with a conference convened by Harvard's Civil Rights Project, titled "Dropouts in California: Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis."
A written release says solutions to be discussed at the conference include: funding and implementing the unique student identifier system passed by the CA legislature; new legislation requiring more accurate statewide reporting and greater accountability for improving graduation rates; forming new coalitions to advocate for improvements at the district and state level; and implementing proven interventions designed to reduce California’s dropout rates.
"If properly implemented, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) could be used to improve graduation rates," said Daniel Losen, Senior Education Law and Policy Associate at The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. "The first step is to stop allowing states to report inaccurate graduation rates using flawed methodology. The second is to use NCLB to ensure that districts meet or make yearly progress towards a reasonable graduation rate goal for all students."
To view the study in pdf form, click Harvard Civil Rights Project Study re CA Dropout Rate.