The high school graduation rate in the Los Angeles Unified School District and across Los Angeles County dipped in 2016-17, as it did for the state, with officials Thursday blaming the drop on a change in the methodology for calculating the rate.
According to figures released by the California Department of Education, 76.1 percent of LAUSD students who entered high school as freshmen in 2013-14 graduated on time in 2016-17. That rate was slightly below the 2015-16 rate of 77.3 percent.
For Los Angeles County as a whole, the high school graduation rate was 80.8 percent for 2016-17, down from 81.6 percent the previous year. In Orange County, the 2016-17 graduation rate was 88.8 percent, down from 91 percent.
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, a new methodology for calculating graduation rates was implemented for 2016-17 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.
While the changes make it difficult to compare progress year to year, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said one thing the numbers do appear to show is an increasing number of high school graduates who meet the requirements for admission to University of California or California State University campuses.
“In addition, more of our students are passing Advanced Placement exams and the number demonstrating proficiency in a foreign language has quadrupled since 2011,” he said.
He noted that the figures continue to show an achievement gap, with Asian and white students graduating at higher rates that Latino and black students.
“We have a long way to go and need help from everyone — teachers, parents, administrators and community members — to narrow these gaps,” he said.