Berkeley school district’s graduation rate exceeds county and state averages

In terms of graduation rates, Berkeley Unified School District students consistently outperform their peers across the state and county, according to recently released statistics.

According to the data, the 2009- 2010 district graduation rate was 81.1 percent — exceeding the state average of 74.4 percent and the Alameda County average of 74.7 percent. The district was also shown to have lower dropout rates than the rest of the state — 16.6 percent compared to the state average of 18.2 percent.

African-American and Hispanic students at the district had graduation rates of 75.8 percent and 81.5 percent, respectively, while the state averages are 59 percent and 67.7 percent. Dropout rates were also 20.7 percent for African-American students and 15.9 percent for Hispanic students in the district, again showing better numbers than the state’s averages of 30.1 percent and 22.7 percent.

“We’ve done everything from improving support for students to pass the (California High School Exit Exam). We’ve instituted credit recovery classes for students who are juniors and seniors so they can make up work and get credit,” said Karen Hemphill, board member of Berkeley Unified School District’s Board of Education.

This data is the first coming from a new formula of calculating high school graduation rates. The new formula, called the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, now includes variables regarding students who transfer into and out of schools, unlike the previous formula the district used.

“I think we’ll have even better results in the next few years. If you look at our middle schools, we’ve had drastic improvements,” Hemphill said. “We are now seeing high numbers for those passing Algebra I in the 8th grade, which is not even a requirement.”

On top of expected improvement from the students, Hemphill also asserted the school’s and the district’s dedication to improving the quality of education and classrooms for future years.