Graduation and dropout rates for the Class of 2011

The four-year graduation rate in Oakland Unified rose about four points in the latest estimate released today by the California Department of Education. About 59 percent of students who started high school in 2007 graduated with their classmates in 2011. About 28 percent dropped out, and 12 percent were still enrolled in school when the data were collected.

Some Oakland high schools had dropout rates in the 40s. Life Academy and Metwest lost the lowest percentage of students among OUSD schools, though their dropout rates were still higher than 10 percent. Charter schools are listed separately; you have to call each of them up individually to see how they did.

This is the second year the state has followed a cohort of students — each, with a unique ID — through four years of high school to get what is supposed to be the most reliable estimate yet.

The above link takes you to the rates by ethnicity. Go here (or read the summary below) to see rates for English learners, special education students and low-income students.

To find stats for other districts, schools or counties, go to the CDE’s DataQuest page and click “dropouts” from the drop-down menu, along with the level you’re looking for.


African American students: 55.1 percent graduation rate, 30.8 percent dropout rate, and 12.7 percent still enrolled.

Latino students: 51.8 percent graduation rate, 30 percent dropout rate, and 16.6 percent still enrolled.

White students: 72.7 percent graduation rate, 23.1 percent dropout rate and 3.5 percent still enrolled.

Asian students: 78.5 percent graduation rate, 15.1 percent dropout rate and 5.1 percent still enrolled.

English learners: 40.8 percent graduation rate, 36.6 percent dropout rate, 12.2 percent still enrolled.

Special education students: 39.4 percent graduation rate, 33.7 percent dropout rate, 18.3 percent still enrolled.

Low-income students: 58.6 percent graduation rate, 26.9 percent dropout rate, 9.2 percent still enrolled.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Observer

    You have to call each individual Charter school to get their graduation rates? Great accountability there!

  • Steven Weinberg

    So a student who completes his or her twelfth grade year, but does not qualify for a diploma and who does not return to school is considered a drop-out. It seems to me that should be a separate category. My guess is that most of the special education students who are shown as drop outs would fall in that category. How many of the white students who drop out are also special ed students?

  • On the Fence

    Wish I had more time to spend looking at the data, however, what caught my eye in skimming the article was the mention of schools with the lowest dropout rates.

    I’m not sure what conclusion that we can draw from schools like MetWest given that the sample size is so small. MetWest has a cohort of 35 students. Oakland Tech serves a cohort of 379 (senior class size, I guess). Also, isn’t there an application and lottery for admission to MetWest or am I getting it confused with another school? And what are the differences in the total funding per student at these schools? I only ask because the website talks about private funding streams. The MetWest website states they have a 2.7% dropout rate, btw. Perhaps that was from a previous year. Seems like MetWest is great for a small number of students with very intensive individual attention, however, in these days of budget contraints it seems that that style of teaching may not be replicable on a larger scale.

  • Catherine

    This is the official drop out rate based on students who show up to school on the first day of 9th grade. What about the students who simply stop attending in middle school.

  • Katy Murphy

    Right. Kids who drop out before enrolling in high school aren’t even included in this estimate.

  • Nontcair

    Dropouts are making the very conscious decision to NOT waste six+ hours per day (x 180 days) in school.

    For those who are not on the varsity sports or pre-college tracks the schools provide little attraction, except maybe a peculiar social scene.

  • On The Fence


    The explanation is likely demographics, a combination of nature and nurture.

  • On The Fence

    Sorry – wrong topic.

  • Zinnia

    Re: Steven’s comment
    There are also ELD students who go through 12th, pass their classes, but can’t pass the ELA exit exam. They don’t get diplomas and graduate, but go on to Community Colleges and/or Adult School or online courses to get their diplomas eventually and transfer to 4 year colleges.

  • Nextset

    There’s something about these numbers that look too good to be true.

    Probably my memory of the math and verbal scores from standardized tests. Those scores were so low that these graduations numbers feel too good.

    Or maybe you can graduate unable to read, write and count.

  • makeitgoaway

    So how is this not unacceptable? In a healthy society, politicians and superintendents would go before the cameras and vow to work together to reduce dropouts.

    How does OUSD staff for these dropouts? Do they hire teachers and then lay them off at some of these dropout factories, or do teachers teach classes of 10-12 students in Senior year? Why wouldn’t the union be doing everything possible to keep kids in school since it represents jobs? Why isn’t Mayor Quan making a connection to the rising crime rate? And why do we not see statistics about which school produces the most criminals? I will bet they are in her “100” block area…

  • Stacey Smith

    Thank you, Katy, for posting this information. The data about special education students mirrors what we see in the achievement information in the strategic plan and also other state data. To answer Steven W.’s musings, special education students are dropping out each year of high school and when I blogged about the low achievement rates for this at-risk population (http://www.ibabuzz.com/education/2012/06/11/time-to-focus-more-on-student-achievement-for-students-with-disabilities/) I was looking at a similar report but broken down by grade level. So no, the low graduation rate should not be all about students who cannot gain a diploma especially because these students can attain a diploma without passing the CA High School Exit Exam. And yes, the majority of students reflected in the data are students of color. As the district works to improve outcomes for these students I hope it remembers that part of that work and focus must be in the special education program because while there may be some students who are incorrectly placed in special education the majority of students in the program are there because they need the specialized support, instruction and services that only special education provides. One question I have is about the English Learners — the board and the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education recently both heard professionals and community members speak about “reverse disproportionality” – the fact that English learners are under-identified for special education support because there is a perception that learning issues are all tied to language acquisition. I wonder if any of these students have just not gotten the support they need?

  • ASadReminder

    I agree that public high school for low achieving students is totally dismal and boring. Why wouldn’t they drop out? Very little attention, special needs, large classes, more worksheets, meaningless testing. What’s the draw for these students, who perhaps just need a little love, a place to feel safe and some expressive outlet to grow into a productive adult.

  • Anita

    I second what Catherine said. Many of my elementary school students (mostly ELLS and others too) would simply stop showing up to school when they entered middle schools. The feeder middle school to our elementary school was chaotic with no systems in place to support students who weren’t showing up to school. This was many years ago, hopefully things have changed. How unfortunate, that these dropout rates would be even more heartbreaking if these middle school students were to be included in the dropout statistics.

  • Catherine

    Anita: I wish I could say that things have changed. I am familiar with Frick and Bret Harte and I would love to see the statistics of students who simply do not show up to high school at all – my guess – between 12% and 20%.

  • Larry

    I would like to see a gender breakdown. What % of males vs. females earned a diploma?

  • On the Fence

    I wonder what OUSD will propose to address the low rates of graduation of Latino students and even more so, English Language Learners? I’d also be interested to see the data as to which ELL students are bringing down the average grad rate. Is it all ELL students, or subsets such as Spanish speakers who contribute disproportionately to this low graduation rate? There has been much attention to the creation of the Office of African American Male Achievement. I wonder if there is a similar effort to target Latino students who tend to drop out at a higher rate than even the African American students per this report.

  • Nontcair

    More data. More data. More data.

    More studies. More testing. More meetings.

    More statisticians to detect correlations.
    More administrators to generate reports.
    More superintendents to analyze results.
    More consultants to craft grant proposals.
    More lawyers to seek dispensations.

    More IT personnel. More intervention specialists. More laptop computers. More pedagogies.

    What does ANY of this have to do with the very straightforward task of teaching Johnny how to read? Is it any wonder why public education needs more and MORE money each year?

    Once again we see the bureaucracy working for its own interests — in this case, to secure higher funding for itself — rather than the taxpayers which it is chartered to serve.

  • J.R.

    Exactly right, but the bureaucracy does hope that some learning happens as a side benefit. The public sector has plenty of SNUP’s(serves no useful purpose)and that is why bureaucrats like to stay in the background. Again and again the scenario of “rob the taxpayer” plays out, and the public at large never catches on(whether Bullet trains, billion dollar schools).








    It is so very easy to spend someone else’s money.

  • Katy Murphy

    Here’s a link to the gender breakdown:

  • James

    Looking at this now from outside the country.. The Race/Gender breakdowns seem even more ridiculous. Figure out why so many kids are dropping out.. period. They all matter. These dividing lines need to be completely erased and the focus needs to placed on elevating the achievement of every single student.. good, bad, or indifferent.. that’s the only way America is going to be able to compete on the world stage. The Education system out here in Japan is all business.. no joke.. no nonsense.. and all the time you guys spend comparing yourselves amongst yourselves will not help your kids compete with these kids.. or with the kids in India.. or China.. or Korea.. or Europe. That race nonsense is killing you all. Put it down and move forward.