A new state report estimated that 40 percent of Oakland public high school students dropped out, or would drop out, of high school based on data from the 2008-09 school year. (See the 4-year adjusted rate in the second-to-last column. Hint: You might have to scroll to the right.)
Forty percent! And that figure isn’t supposed to include students who enroll in adult school, those who take longer to graduate than four years, or who transfer to other public schools in the state.
The state’s dropout calculation is said to be more accurate than other methods, because each student in California has a unique identification number that (theoretically) follows them wherever they go, as long as they enroll in a public school in the state. But the estimate has fluctuated in OUSD, from 36 percent in 2006-07 to 28 percent in 2007-08 to 40 percent in 2008-09.
A high school’s population doesn’t change all that much from one year to the next, so I wonder how reliable these figures are. They do tell us one thing, though: the dropout rate in Oakland is incredibly high.
My colleague Theresa Harrington listened in on a teleconference with state education department officials; apparently, San Diego and Stockton have also experienced major swings. A department official said this was the first year of the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS), and that it worked better with some districts’ software systems than others. But statewide, he said, there wasn’t much fluctuation from year to year.
P.S. The CDE used to provide a link at the bottom of each data report that made it easy to upload small, local data files and create Excel spreadsheets (like the one I made last year, comparing the rates for different schools). I’ve requested one, but I’m not holding my breath.