GHS dropout rate an improvement, officials say

GHS dropout rate an improvement, officials say

Despite the label of

second worst dropout rate in Santa Clara County,

Gilroy Unified School District has made strides with Gilroy High
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Today’s breaking news:
Despite Gilroy Unified School District touting the second worst dropout rate in Santa Clara County, Gilroy High School has made significant strides over the last four years.

That’s the positive news, in the wake of the California Department of Education releasing its annual report of dropout rates and graduation numbers over 2009-2010.

At Gilroy High School last year, 11.6 percent of students dropped out before graduation. The figure is a good sign, according to GUSD superintendent Debbie Flores, who reminds the dropout rate four years ago was near 20 percent.

“Although we are lagging behind many districts in the county, our base rates are slightly above the county averages,” observed Kermit Schrock, GUSD program administrator for student assessment and data management.

County-wide, GUSD has the second highest percentage of dropouts at 15.2 percent among its 3,279 students who attend Gilroy High School, Mt. Madonna High School and Dr. T.J. Owens Early College Academy.

Something to also consider is the 95 percent dropout rate (based on 23 of 24 students dropping out) from the now-closed MACSA El Portal Leadership Academy formerly located on IOOF Avenue. This is the last year MACSA will be factored into GUSD’s overall rate; an inclusion Schrock says distorts the district’s results.

East Side Union High District – which accounts for the largest population of high school students in the county at 26,689 students – has the highest dropout rate at 18 percent. Because of the size of Eastside Union, the county’s overall dropout rate is 16.8 percent and higher than GUSD’s. Meanwhile Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High boasted the lowest dropout rate at 1.7 percent.

“We are really pleased with the decrease in the 9-12 dropout rate over the past four years,” wrote Schrock in an email about GHS.

He reminded GUSD’s dropout rate in 2006-07 was at 19 percent.

Hispanic and Latino students are dropping out of high school at a higher rate than other ethnic groups in Santa Clara County – a trend that is consistent at GUSD. County-wide, Hispanic/Latino students drop out at a rate of 31 percent, and account for 69 percent students who dropped out last year in the county, according to analysis by the Santa Clara County Office of Education.

Of GUSD’s 129 students who left high school before earning a diploma, 109 were Hispanic or Latino, 14 were white, two were Asian, two were African-American, one student identified as being of two or more races (not Hispanic), and one student was filed under “not reported.”

“We always want to compare ourselves to Morgan Hill and San Benito schools and other districts around us,” said Schrock. “We don’t want to use demographics as an excuse, but it’s always a factor in performance. Our goal is to out-perform our demographics.”

About 11,000 students went to a GUSD school in 2009-10. Of those students: 7,832 are Hispanic, 2,075 are white, 316 are Asian, 177 are Fillipino, 147 are African-American, 54 are American Indian or Alaska Native, 31 are Pacific Islander and 139 students identified as two or more races; 345 students did not report their ethnicity.

Yearly graduation rates were also part of the Dept. of Education’s report. Data shows the GUSD graduation rate last year was 79.4 percent. East Side Union High was at 76.8 percent, while Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High boasts the highest graduation rate at 97.6 percent. The county average is 78.3 percent.

Flores said the district will examine its own breakdown and analysis of the data during upcoming board meetings and presentations. In November, each high school principal will give a comprehensive presentation on the steps they’re taking to improve student achievement, she said.

In addition to focusing on intervention and preventative strategies, Flores added GUSD is honing in on efficiency when it comes to tracking students who leave the district.

Calls were made to GUSD school board trustees for comments. As of press time, trustee Jaime Rosso was the only trustee reached. Rosso said he has not gone over the data yet.

On Monday, the CDE will release the 2011 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program results for school, district, county and state levels.

To view comprehensive charts, go to the California Department of Education website at

New formula for dropout rate

For the first time, all data in the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s analysis is listed as the “4-year Adjusted Cohort Rate.” For this reason, percentages in the 2009-10 school year are not comparable to prior years, when different formulas from the NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) were used, according to a spokeswoman from the California Department of Education. The new formula revolves around a “cohort,” which begins with an incoming group of ninth-graders. Every cohort is subsequently adjusted during the four-year high school career, taking into account students who transfer in or out, emigrate to another country or die during that four-year period, according to the Santa Clara County Office of Education.

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