Almost 85-percent of West Contra Costa Unified (WCCUSD) students in the Class of 2015 have earned their high school diploma, a 7-percent increase from the previous class, according to the district, citing data released Tuesday by the California Department of Education.
WCCUSD results also exceed the state’s graduation rate of 82.3 percent.
Of the 1,868 students from the Class of 2015 began in the 2011-12 school year, 1,583 graduated with a high school diploma and 42 received a special education certificate of completion. There are 108 students still enrolled and working on achieving a high school diploma. The class had a 7.2 percent dropout rate over its four years, down 7 percent from the Class of 2014, the district said. That beats the statewide rate of 10.7 percent.
Kennedy High’s graduation rate of 87.3 percent for the Class of 2015 is up from 64.6-percent the previous year, the district said, while De Anza High saw its rate grow from 82.1 to 87.9 percent in those same years.
Kennedy Principal Phil Johnson credits the turnaround to his staff embracing a modified block schedule allowing students to take eight classes a year, thus earning more credits. Their senior year, they can take courses at Contra Costa College.
“Under the old schedule, there was no room for error if a student failed a course,” Johnson said in the statement. “Our staff recognized that we were losing a lot of our students and something needed to be done. They did it for our students because they thought it would work, and it has.”
The new schedule is so effective that Johnson said he believes the graduation rate will jump again for the class of 2016.
There were improvements in the percentage of African American and Latin Americans who earned their diplomas.
“Our focus on preparing students for college and career and the supportive programs we’ve put into place are resulting in more students graduating on time,” Board President Randy Enos said in a statement.”We have plenty of work to do, but the data clearly indicates that we are taking the right steps to improve the academic standing for all of our students.