Graduation rates report released

April 1, 2008 9:02:05 PM PDT
A new report on high school graduation rates shows the Bay Area ranks near the top and the bottom of the nationwide list.

Seventeen of the country's 50 largest cities had high school graduation rates lower than 50 percent.

Oakland schools continue to struggle despite some progress made by creating smaller schools.

The district says Metwest High is one of those success stories which now enjoys a 96 percent graduation rate.

"It allows for closer monitoring, easier analysis of the data, and more rapid intervention when the child is struggling to make sure they stay on track," said Troy Flint from Oakland Unified School District.

The report is from America's Promise Alliance - a coalition of businesses and non-profits founded by General Colin Powell.

It shows only 46 percent of students in Oakland graduate. The district says it's 61 percent.

"They don't count for things like students who are transferring in, students who are transferring out students who are leaving early and going to a community college," said Flint.

That's because California doesn't have a tracking system. It's in the works but because of proposed budget cuts, it won't be available for a few years.

Last week, California's governor met with several mayors and proposed a summit to address the problem. Today's report also suggests holding several summits around the nation.

In the Bay Area, San Jose did well with a 77 percent graduation rate. San Francisco's graduation rate was also higher than Oakland's, 73 percent, according to the report.

In 2003 right before a grand jury truancy report, San Francisco Unified created "The Stay in School Coalition."

Schools like Mission High went from having a 66 percent graduate rate in 2003 to 83 percent in 2006.

Anthony Bacani is a senior. He says some students drop out because they don't think they're college material.

"When it comes to colleges and you are worried with what you did in the past, you say, oh I messed up, just dropping out seems an easier way to get out of the pressure," said senior Anthony Bacani.

"One of our strategies has been less about the scaring the kids by saying okay, this is what is going to happen if you don't graduate but more trying to making it positive this is what you have to look forward to when you do graduate, and when you do go to colleges and experience the best years of your life," said principal Kevin Truitt.