In many counties, more than 20 percent drop out of school

The new figures released by the California Department of Education last week are based on information collected about individual students from their freshman year in 2006 through graduation in 2010.

Statewide, the study found nearly three out of four students graduated and 18.2 percent dropped out. The remainder of the students are either still in school, earned their GED or are in alternative programs, according to the department's press release.

The counties with a dropout rate of 20 percent or more are split between predominantly white, rural counties and more diverse counties of 100,000 residents or more. The worst rates were in Inyo (46.3 percent) and Nevada (46.1 percent) counties.

Seven counties had a dropout rate of less than 10 percent – San Luis Obispo (9.7 percent), Mariposa (9.4 percent), Sierra (8.9 percent), Placer (8.7 percent), Amador (7.9 percent), Marin (7.3 percent) and Calaveras (6.5 percent).

The study also found "that there is still a significant gap that persists between Hispanic and African American students and their peers," with 67.7 percent of Hispanic students making it to graduation and 59 percent of African Americans earning a high school diploma.

These figures represent the first time dropout rates are derived from following individual students and should more accurately represent the number of students leaving school before graduating.

Story courtesy of our media partners at California Watch (A Project of the Center for Investigative Reporting)

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