Berkeley High School graduation rate increase surpasses state average

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A study published Tuesday from the California Department of Education showed that the California high school graduation rate reached a record high of 82.3 percent in 2015.

The graduation rate at Berkeley High School rose to 91.8 percent in 2015, which was approximately three percent better than the previous year. In California, the rate increased by just over one percent that year to 82.3 percent. The rate at Berkeley High School in 2015 surpassed the state average by roughly 10 percent.

According to Berkeley High School counselor Angela Price, the continued increase in the school’s graduation rate is in part the product of the students’ interest in attending a four-year university. The school has attempted to accommodate that interest by offering several college preparatory classes, such Advanced Placement courses and International Baccalaureate courses, among others.

“When I meet a student in my office, I expect them to leave high school heading to a four-year (university).” Price said, adding that “our kids want to go to college.”

Despite the overall increase in the state’s graduation rate, however, there remain notable discrepancies between the respective rates of students of different subgroups. At 88 percent, the graduation rate for white high school seniors exceeds that of black students by 17 percent.  

Elisa Stone, a former high school biology teacher and the director of Cal Teach Berkeley, said the discrepancy between different subgroups is a result of multiple factors. She noted that such factors could include differences in the groups’ teachers, absences and the “work responsibilities of students and their families.”

According to Education Trust-West spokesperson Jelena Hasbrouck, the next step in narrowing the graduation rate gap is the commitment of the local community to meeting that goal. She added that such community engagement has improved in recent years in connection with the graduation rate.

“The graduation rate increase is positive,” Hasbrouck said. “But we need to do more to close these gaps faster … for all student subgroups to keep up this momentum.”

Contact Christian Conable at [email protected].