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Sonoma County Gazette
High School Graduation

 Sonoma County High School Graduation Rate Rises

Apr 12, 2017


The rate of students graduating from high school in Sonoma County has steadily risen by nearly ten percentage points in the last seven years, County Superintendent Steve Herrington announced.

Sonoma County’s graduation rate in 2015-16 was 84.4 percent compared with 74.7 percent in 2009-10, according to California Department of Education data released today. It's also up 1.5 points from the prior year alone: In 2014-15, the graduation rate was 82.9. This number is also above the state’s record high average of 83.2.

“This is welcomed news and shows that our efforts to improve the high school graduation and college-going rates for local students are paying off,” Herrington said. “We are moving in the right direction in terms of meeting the goals for student success set by the Sonoma County Health Action Plan.”

A particularly dramatic increase took place among students identifying as Hispanic or Latino, a population that now makes up 45 percent of students enrolled in Sonoma County public schools. In 2009-10, only 65.9 percent of students in this demographic graduated with their class. By 2015-16, that number had risen by 15 percentage points, to a rate of 81 percent. This also represents a marked narrowing of the achievement gap in recent years. In 2009-10, the Hispanic/Latino graduation rate trailed the county average by almost 9 points. In 2015-16, the gap was just 3.4 points.

“This is encouraging progress,” Herrington said. "While disparities in the achievement gap remain, these new graduation rates show that we're on the right track with our efforts to ensure all students succeed.”

"Much credit is due to the excellent work of our local teachers and administrators who work every day to ensure students are gaining the skills they need to be successful in our changing world,” he said. He cited efforts to build student engagement and enhance the relevance of academic learning to modern-day life as key to improving graduation rates.

He also gave credit to a county-wide effort to promote student equity. This includes providing additional resources to traditionally underserved student populations.  

At the same time that graduation rates have increased, fewer Sonoma County students have dropped out of school. The dropout rate decreased from 15.5 percent in 2009-10 to 9.7 percent in 2014-15.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said of the statewide results, “This is great news for our students and families. Graduation rates have gone up seven years in a row, reflecting renewed optimism and increased investments in our schools that have helped reduce class sizes; bring back classes in music, theater, art, dance, and science; and expand career technical education programs that engage our students with hands-on, minds-on learning.”

This is the seventh time this cohort information was calculated, meaning data may only be compared accurately over the six-year period from 2009–10 to 2015-16. Prior to 2009–10, graduation and dropout rates used different calculation systems.

To view and download state, county, district, and school graduation and dropout rates, visit the California Department of Education'sDataQuest. Caution is urged when comparing graduation or dropout rates across individual schools and districts. For example, some county office schools, alternative schools, or dropout recovery high schools serve only those students who are already at the greatest risk of dropping out, compared with the broader population at traditional high schools. As well, some schools have very small student populations, where one dropout can significantly impact the overall graduation rate.


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