California’s 2018 Graduation Rates Are In

The California Department of Education has released its data on 2018 high school graduation rates a bit early this year — a decision it says will help school districts jumpstart their plans for next year and allow the CDE to include the latest numbers in their fall release of California School Dashboard.

Overall, the data reveal continuing improvements in California high school completion rates. Graduation rates for those who began high school in 2014 are now at a near all-time high of 83%, representing an 82.7% increase from the previous year. Eight years ago, graduation rates were at 74.7%.

“Our graduation rates continue to rise, reflecting the passion and dedication by educators over the past eight years to transform our education system with a more equitable funding system, higher academic standards and more emphasis on career technical education,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said. “Still, much work needs to be done to make certain all students graduate and to close the continuing achievement gaps between student groups.”

Disparities between racial and socioeconomic groups persist (see Table 1 on the CDE’s press release). The number of dropouts also increased in 2018, a troubling sign.

While suspensions were down for the sixth straight year, chronic absenteeism rose. That was the case among nearly every student group measured for the 2017-2018 academic year. Chronic absenteeism increased from 10.8% in 2016-2017 to 11.1%.

“There are many reasons a student can fall into a pattern of being chronically absent that are beyond their control such as an illness, watching a younger sibling while a parent works, caregiving for an older relative, or lack of a reliable ride, or convenient bus route to school,” said Torlakson. “When we identify these challenges, we can link students and their families to all appropriate school and community resources.”

You can download the data for CDE graduation rates here. For information on suspensions and chronic absenteeism, visit the Suspension Data web page and the Chronic Absenteeism Data web page


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