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Civil Rights Group Claims California’s Minority High-School Dropout Rate Is Inaccurate

Civil Rights Group Claims California’s Minority High-School Dropout Rate Is Inaccurate

California’s high school dropout rates were miscalculated, and more accurate figures show that only half of male Hispanic and Black students in the state earned regular high-school diplomas, a civil rights group says.

The state has reported a graduation rate of 87 percent for 2002, but researchers with The Civil Rights Project of Harvard University, using a different methodology, say the rate is closer to 71 percent.
Graduation rates for minority students were significantly lower — 60 percent for Hispanics, 57 percent for Blacks and 52 percent for American Indians.

If one looks at statistics reflecting the percentage of ninth-grade students who graduate in four years, the figures are even worse, especially for minority males. Fifty-four percent of Hispanic males earned their high-school diplomas on time, compared to 50 percent of Blacks and 46 percent of American Indians.

The figures were released as the conference “Dropouts in California: Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis” began in Los Angeles.

Dr. Gary Orfield, director of Harvard’s Civil Rights Project, says the states current methodology is “extremely inadequate” because it allows high-school officials to report whether students dropped out or transferred.
“There’s no incentive for them to report that they dropped out ,and they can easily report that they transferred someplace else because nobody ever checks up on the data,” Orfield says. “There’s almost no money invested at the state level or the federal level in determining whether people actually graduate.”

The revised method, which was developed by the Urban Institute, is more accurate because it uses enrollment data that is tracked through grade levels, Orfield says.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said the results were not surprising because the state has long known of the academic gap among minority students.

“That’s why my call for additional high-school reform is so urgent. We want to have smaller school communities, more relevant curriculum,” O’Connell says. “Preschool is a key component for success in high school. That’s why we’re putting emphasis on (proposals for) preschool-for-all this year.”

— Associated Press

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