Focus on quality education, not grads

California’s graduation rate increased for the seventh year in a row with the class of 2016, reported the California Department of Education last week, hitting 83.2 percent of students who started high school in 2012–13. Orange County’s graduation rate topped 90.8 percent, making it the only county in California with at least 3,000 students to achieve graduation rates above 90 percent. Of course, such success should be lauded, because higher graduation rates at least indicate there’s a strong enough support system to encourage and enable students to graduate on time.


But increasing percentages of students making their way through the education system in four years is only one metric to consider. Even more important is whether students are actually receiving a quality education.

There are plenty of reasons for doubt about the quality of education in many of California’s schools. According to last year’s standardized test results, less than half of California students met state English standards, while only 37 percent met the standards for math. Orange County students fared better, with 57 percent meeting standards on English and 48 percent meeting them for math, with various districts doing better or worse.

Predictably, many students graduate from high school ineligible for admission to state universities. Statewide, just 45 percent of students who graduated last year had completed the “A through G” required courses for admission. In Orange County, only 51 percent of graduates had done so.

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