News brief: MHUSD high schools beat county and state graduation rates for class of 2015
Published on Morgan Hill Life’s website on May 25, 2016
By staff report
The California Department of Education released May 17 its student graduation statistics for the Morgan Hill Unified School District, showing that among students who started high school in the 2011-2012 school year, 88.8 percent graduated with their class in 2015. The rate dropped slightly from 2014 when 89.2 percent of students graduated.
In comparison, statewide 82.3 percent of students graduated with their class in 2015, up 1.3 percentage points from the year before. The state’s graduation rate has increased substantially since the class of 2010 posted a 74.7 percent rate, said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
Santa Clara County’s overall graduation rate was 83.6 percent. Gilroy Unified tied with MHUSD at 88.8 percent. The highest graduation rate in the county was 98.2 percent at the Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District.
“Our graduation rates are comparatively very strong both overall and for each of our major subgroups,” said Glen Webb, MHUSD director of Curriculum/Instruction. “Our goal is to enable each student to graduate prepared for their life choice into college, technical school, or straight into a career. The graduation rate does not tell us how we are doing on that, but it does give us the percentage of students who start and finish with our schools and a breakdown of those who have left the schools which help us with seeking out information about where those students land once they leave our district.”
The district is proud of the hard work that its teachers, staff, and directors do in achieving a high percentage in graduation rates and with better monitoring of students across the country these rates can be even higher, said MHUSD Superintendent Steve Betando.
“We are very pleased with the high percentage,” he said. “We need to keep in mind, however, that graduation rates are just one indication of the district’s success and even those numbers, although excellent for us, can be misleading if you don’t have a clear understanding of how they are calculated.”
Graduation rates are only one of the newest metrics used to rate schools and school districts since the abolishing of Academic Performance Index scores two years ago. Graduation rates are calculated by the number of students enrolled divided by the number of those students who collect their diplomas at the end of the year, with a specific number of documented dropouts. What this formula fails to capture is the number of students who have left a school district, and no further enrollment records become available, he said.
“What every district must attend to is the status of each student who has been enrolled at some time in their high school years but are unaccounted for at the end,” Betando said. “This is a challenge when we are dependent on the new school to inform us of a student’s enrollment. As the system is now, those students count against the district’s overall graduation rate even if they’ve graduated elsewhere.”
MHUSD is working to improve monitoring of students as they come and go from school districts, he said. Besides enrolling in a new California high school, many of those students may be continuing their education abroad, in technical schools, or community colleges that have not sent a request for the student’s cumulative record.
A cumulative record request is official notice to high school registrars that a student has continued with their education once they leave Morgan Hill. The gap between graduation rate, dropout rate, and total number of students who have enrolled at a school are a school district’s tools for keeping account of tracking practices, Webb said.
“A lot of the success in Morgan Hill high graduation rates and low dropout rates come from making school more relevant to students so that they see the connection to college and a career moving forward,” he said. “MHUSD believes that once students make that connection, then the diploma is just a natural consequence of chasing even bigger and better things to come.”