California Dropout Rate Reaches Nearly 20 Percent

SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – New state figures show that nearly one out of every five California high school seniors dropped out last year, with the numbers even worse in Oakland.

For years, the state’s dropout rate has ranged from 11 to 22 percent, but the tracking system used was not completely reliable.

The new method tracks students over their four year high school career and the first results show that three out of four students who started high school in 2006 graduated with their 2010 class. But more than 18 percent dropped out.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

And in Oakland, only 53 percent of the 3,200 students that were tracked managed to graduate, with 37 percent dropping out.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said it is never too early to start cracking down on attendance.

“In the Los Angeles School District, 23 percent of kindergartners are chronically absent. That means they are missing 20 or more days of the school year. In Oakland, it’s 17 percent,” said Torlakson. “That translates into year’s lost time. By the time you’re a ninth grader, you’ve lost one year of your education.”

Perhaps even more startling is that more than 17,000 eighth graders dropped out before they even entered grade nine.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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