SANTA MONICA-MALIBU UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

PRESS RELEASE

 

CONTACT:  Maureen Bradford                         FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

310.450.8338, ext. 70333                                   17 DEC 2010

 

 

NEW data system increases statewide graduation and dropout rate accuracy

 

On December 7, 2010, the California Department of Education released the 2008-09 Graduation Rate and Dropout data for schools, districts, counties and the state as a whole.  Graduation and dropout rates for the class of 2009 were determined, in part, by CALPADS, the state’s new longitudinal data system.

 

CALPADS assigns every student in the state with a unique Statewide Student Identification, or SSID number.  Through CALPADS, students’ progression through the grade levels can be tracked, even as they move from school to school and district to district, allowing for greater accuracy in determining students who have dropped out of school.  Under this new system, Santa Monica-Malibu’s graduation rates have decreased slightly over the year prior, while our dropout rates have substantially increased.

 

Graduation Rates Based on NCES 4 Year Definition*

 

2007-08

Grad Rate

2008-09

Grad Rate

Malibu H.S.

94.3%

93.0%

Olympic H.S

45.5%

43.1%

Santa Monica H.S.

93.0%

91.4%

SMMUSD

91.1%

89.9%

L.A. County

78.8%

75.7%

State of CA

80.2%

78.5%

*Number of Graduates (Year 4) divided by: Number of Graduates (Year 4) + Gr. 9 Dropouts (Year 1) + Gr. 10 Dropouts (Year 2) + Gr. 11 Dropouts (Year 3) + Gr. 12 Dropouts (Year 4)

 

Dropout Rates

 

2007-08

Dropout Rate

2008-09

Dropout Rate

Malibu H.S.

5.3%

7.6%

Olympic H.S

37.6%

43.9%

Santa Monica H.S.

8.1%

12.0%

SMMUSD

8.1%

13.5%

L.A. County

21.0%

24.3%

State of CA

18.9%

21.7%

 

As with other metrics of student achievement, dropout rates in SMMUSD and across the state reflect the achievement gap for Latino and African American students, when compared to their White and Asian peers. 

 

Dropout Rates by Race/Ethnicity

 

African

American

Asian

Latino

White

SMMUSD

27.3%

6.7%

20.4%

8.4%

L.A. County

38.2%

7.3%

28.0%

13.6%

State of CA

36.9%

9.7%

26.9%

14.3%

 

The increase in dropout rates may be partially attributed to an increase in the number of “Lost Transfers” for 2008-09.   These are students who were exited from our district with the anticipation that they were going to enroll in another California public school system.  These students did not show up (with their existing SSID numbers) in any other California public school.  If they were in grades 9 – 12 when they exited our district, CALPADS counted them as our dropouts.  The 62 Lost Transfers account for approximately 44% of our total dropouts (141) for 2008-09. 

 

Number of Lost Transfers

 

2007-08

Lost Transfers

2008-09

Lost Transfers

Malibu H.S.

3

8

Olympic H.S

6

8

Santa Monica H.S.

31

46

SMMUSD

40

62

 

“Prior to better student tracking through the CALPADS system, most districts overstated graduation rates and understated dropout rates because when students indicated they were transferring, but did not, there was no way to follow up,” explained Board of Education member Ralph Mechur.  “[These new] stated increases [in dropout rates are probably closer] to what was the actual rate.” 

 

Mr. Mechur went on to add that simply explaining the differences in data using the new CALPADS system does not discount the fact that there are students who do not graduate and that an achievement gap exists. 

 

SMMUSD Systems of Support

SMMUSD offers several systems of support for students at risk of dropping out of high school.  Olympic High School, the district’s continuation high school, allows students to work at their own pace to complete coursework and recover credits from previously failed courses.  Many students who graduate from Olympic are fifth year seniors.  The state formula for graduation rates does not include students who complete their graduation requirements beyond their senior year.  Other programs in place for students at-risk of dropping out include Independent Study programs, credit recovery summer school, on-line credit recovery program, the Off Campus Learning Center, concurrent GED programs, concurrent SMC enrollment and CAHSEE tutoring programs.  Students must pass both parts of the CAHSEE exam in order to receive a high school diploma and be counted in the graduation rate, even if they have satisfactorily completed all required courses.

 

John Adams Middle School also offers the Valued Youth program, a dropout-prevention program, for students who demonstrate one or more characteristics commonly associated with dropouts:  poor attendance, tardiness, discipline issues and course failure.   The collaboration with the JAMS Clubhouse of the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica to provide afterschool tutorial program has proven to be another source of support for students who may be at risk.

 

Continuing Data Challenges for SMMUSD

Since the inception of CALPADS, the complexity and need for accuracy and uniformity in data entry into our student information system has increased exponentially.  Three departments – Information Services, Educational Services, and Pupil Services – have collaborated to develop and implement training sessions on data entry issues for school site enrollment clerks, for school administrators and for school counselors.  Yet, much work remains to be done.  Our first review of 2010-11 CALPADS enrollment data reveals continuing problems with exit dates and exit codes, as well as a number of other demographic data entries. 

 

CALPADS continues to challenge SMMUSD as we work to translate data from our student information system into newly developed and continually changing code sets established for the statewide database.   Information Services, Educational Services, our SIS vendor and two consultants have worked countless hours to meet CALPADS deadlines, even as the state’s system has been taken off-line on numerous occasions due to system bugs.

 

In his press release of December 7, State Superintendent O’Connell stressed the need for additional resources, suggesting that districts be provided with $5 per student to “support the workload associated with collecting, maintaining, and submitting student-level data.”   It appears unlikely, however, that the legislature will approve any additional funding for districts in the development and maintenance of their data systems. 

 

Additional components, such as student course enrollment and completion data as well as teacher assignment and qualification data are being added to CALPADS this school year.  These new components are likely to add an even greater strain on central office staff, at a time when we are simultaneously piloting and rolling out Illuminate, our new student information system.

 

 

Board Member Mechur commented that this increase in dropout rates and decrease in graduation rates “seems to be true… across the nation.  Hence, the government pushing states to develop longitudinal data systems that can better track students over time.” 

 

More information on the 2008-09 Graduation and Dropout Rates is available on the DataQuest website:   www.cde.ca.gov/dataquest

 

 

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SANTA MONICA-MALIBU UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

1651 16TH Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404

ph: 310.450.8338; fax: 310.581.1138

www.smmusd.org