Riverside County’s high school graduation rate jumped another 3 percent last year, a significant improvement that moves the county up to third place overall among comparable counties in the state, according to annual reports released Wednesday by the California Department of Education.
“Graduation from high school is an important milestone for every student. In Riverside County, each elementary, middle and high school has made it their collective aim to ensure every student makes it across the graduation finish line well prepared for the next phase of their life,” noted Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Young.
“With that aim, our graduation rate has steadily risen from the mid-70 percent range to 80.7 percent this past year. While this represents a marked improvement from where we once were, we must continue to focus our attention on getting to 100 percent because every student matters,” he said.
Riverside County’s 2011 graduation rate of 80.7 percent is up from 76.3 percent last year. In ranking among California’s 11 comparable counties with at least 11,000 high school graduates each year, Riverside County moved up from fourth place to third, as well as posting the third highest improvement.
Additionally, Riverside County’s latest dropout rate is down to 12.4 percent, shaving 4.5 percent from last year, and ranks the fourth lowest among the state’s comparable counties. Riverside County was sixth lowest on the same list last year.
“For a long time in our nation’s history, high school dropouts could find a job somewhere in the workforce and make a living,” said Young. “Those days have all but disappeared. Today, a high school diploma is the bare minimum skill set need for life above poverty. As we focus on increasing high school graduation rates, equipping all students with the skills they need for college and the workplace, dropout rates will naturally decrease.”
While this latest data contains good news for the students and schools in Riverside County, Young noted deep concern about how male students in the county are doing in setting and achieving high academic outcomes compared to female students.
“While the county as a whole has a graduation rate of 80.7 percent, only 77 percent of our male students are graduating as compared to 84.4 percent of females. Correspondingly, the dropout rate for males is 14.4 percent, compared to 10.3 percent for females. This gender academic gap is something we must close.”
(The dropout rate calculation involves more than just subtracting the graduation percentage rate from 100 percent.)
*Contributed by Riverside County Office of Education