This is data that will be collected and reported on every year by the /*State Department of Education*/ and every child will be tracked in California. For example, if you graduated with a high school diploma, there will be a code of 100, if the student died they would get a 130 code, if they enroll in a private California school they would get a code of 180. They hope this will be the most comprehensive method to track children in California as they move throughout the state.
Wednesday, each public school student was given a nine-digit identification number to make tracking California's 6.3 million students will be much easier.
"We will be able to tell where kids really are and of course we are going to find out, in that process, that some kids are not where we thought they were," said Merrill Vargo, an education advocate.
The old system was more of a guestimate. There was no central tracking system and many times once a student left the school or a district, there was no way to accurately verify if they had transferred or had dropped out.
"We didn't always check to see if they showed up," said Vargo.
Using the new tracking system, the state found that for 2006-2007, 67.6 percent of students graduated, 24.2 percent dropped out. The remaining 8.2 percent either earned a G.E.D. or received a certificate of completion. Under the old system, the previous year's dropout rate was 13 percent.
"Last year the numbers were based on a certain set of assumptions, a different formula than this year. This year it is based upon real numbers and real students," said /*Superintendant of Schools, Jack O'Connell*/.
Under the new system, the achievement gap was more visible than ever. Forty-one percent of African-American students statewide dropped out, followed by Latinos, at 30 percent.
Santa Clara County had slightly better numbers than the state. Still, the overall dropout rate was one in five.
"Looking at those numbers they are really good investigative numbers for us. We are going to look at them and we are going to say what programs do we have and what can we do to support our students," said Karen Fuqua with the San Jose Unified School District.
Remember this data was collected over one year in 2006-2007. We will get a better picture of California's dropout rate when the data for all four grades, 9-12, comes in. That will in 2009- 2010.