DUSD graduation rate tops in local area

DOWNEY - Class of 2010-2011 data released recently by the State Department of Education shows that the Downey Unified School District's graduation rate of 91.8 percent exceeded that of Norwalk-La Mirada USD, which posted a respectable 90.7 percent rate. Both school districts' averages topped the state's figure of 76.3 percent, that of L.A. County of 71.6 percent and those of its neighbors' by comfortable margins.

The comparable graduation rates for the surrounding areas: ABC USD, 91.3 percent; Whittier Union High School District, 85.6 percent; Bellflower USD, 84.4 percent; Montebello USD, 80.5 percent; Long Beach USD, 77.9 percent; Paramount USD, 73.5 percent; LA USD, 61.6 percent; Lynwood USD, 57.7 percent; and Compton USD, 57.6 percent.

In absolute terms, DUSD graduated 1,839 seniors out of a student cohort of 2,003 while Norwalk-La Mirada USD bid a fond farewell to its 1,434 graduates out of a cohort numbering 1,581. The good number of graduates has of course caused a high level of euphoria at least among DUSD officials who were especially elated at the high percentage of graduates who have been admitted to prestigious colleges/universities such as Cornell, Berkeley, USC and UCLA.

There is a downside as well. At DUSD, 118 students dropped out, for a 5.9 percent dropout rate whereas 80 students dropped out at Norwalk-La Mirada Unified; the district's dropout rate came to 5.2 percent. These compare very well, though, with the state's overall dropout rate of 14.4 percent.

Broken down by ethnicity, Asian students had the highest graduation rate at DUSD with 95.1 percent, white students the second highest with 92.8 percent, Hispanics/Latinos with 91.8 percent, followed by Filipinos with 90.3 percent, African Americans with 87.5 percent, and Pacific Islanders with 85.7 percent.

Over at Norwalk-La Mirada USD, Asians garnered the highest graduation rate with 96.4 percent, white students came in second with 94.4 percent; Filipinos were third, with 92.6 percent; Hispanics/Latinos were fourth, with 90.1 percent; African Americans were fifth, with 87.0 percent; and Pacific Islanders were sixth, with 62.5 percent. Using the same categories, the dropout rates at DUSD were as follows: Pacific Islanders came out first, with 14.3 percent; African Americans had the second highest dropout rate with 7.5 percent; Filipinos came in third, with 6.5 percent; whites were fourth, with 4.0 percent; and Asians having the least percentage of dropouts.

The dropout rates at Norwalk-La Mirada USD were: Pacific Islanders, a whopping 25 percent; African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos were tied at 5.8 percent; Filipinos, 3.7 percent; whites, 3.3 percent; and Asians, 1.8 percent.

Contrary to a misconception, the following are the significant figures for the individual high schools at DUSD: for Downey High, the graduation rate was 94.0 percent while its dropout rate came out to 3.8 percent; for Warren High, the graduation rate was equally 94.0 percent, while it registered a 3.9 dropout rate. There were no figures for Columbus High since, as board member Don LaPlante pointed out, there's no reliable standard for measuring students attending there because of the inherently shifting or temporal nature of the student population. There is also a category for those "still enrolled," he said, which he suspects doesn't get properly accounted for toward graduation rates.

********** Published: July 26, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 15