More high school seniors from the Sweetwater Union High School District completed their high school education in the 2011-2012 school year than in 2010-2011, according to data released by the California Department of Education.
South Bay’s lone secondary school district produced a cohort graduation rate of 82.4, up 2.9 percent from 2010-2011.
Last school year, 5,750 students graduated compared to 5,661 students in 2010-2011.
A cohort is a new method of gathering graduation and dropout data by the state’s education department.
Instead of getting the graduation and dropout rates of all 12th graders, a cohort tracks each student for all four years of high school. The cohort method makes tracking high school graduation and dropout data more accurate.
In years past, the state’s education department would take the total number of 12th grade graduates and divide that number by 100.
Not only are more students graduating from the 13 high schools in the district, fewer are dropping out.
The cohort dropout rate for the 2011-2012 school year sits at 6.7 percent or 464 students, down from 8.3 percent or 550 students the previous year.
Sweetwater High School District’s overall graduation rate last school year exceeds that of California’s, which too saw an increase of 78.5 percent from 77.1, according to the California’s Department of Education data.
Manuel Rubio, Sweetwater district’s spokesman, said the district has worked hard to improve graduation rates across the board.
“We’ve really emphasized our work to get our graduation rate up,” Rubio said. “We don’t want students falling through the cracks. We need to make sure every student stays in the system.”
Rubio said a reason why the graduation rates have increased is that the district has beefed up their work in implementing alternative education such as the learning center, option secondary schools and inter-session.
The dropout rate in California decreased from 14.4 percent to 13.2 percent, which is more than the district’s rate.
Rubio said students understand the life challenges that come with dropping out.
“The stats show pretty clearly that students with a high school diploma can get a job over those who don’t,” he said.
Rubio also said the district’s responsibility is not just to help students graduate high school, but prepare them for college or other life choices.
“We hope graduating isn’t the end for our students,” Rubio said. “If college isn’t for them, we offer different career pathways for them.”