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State releases dropout rate

Hart district’s rate is 4.1 percent compared to 24.2 percent for the state

Posted: July 17, 2008 1:27 a.m.
Updated: September 17, 2008 5:03 a.m.

The Hart district had 696 dropouts in 2006-07, and 511 of those dropped out of one charter school, Opportunities For Learning.

According to data released Wednesday, the Hart district has a dropout rate of 4.1 percent, compared to 7.3 percent for the county and 24.2 percent for the state.

“I think the low number of dropouts is in keeping with the hard work our district does to keep kids connected in school,” said Vicki Engbrecht, assistant superintendent of educational services for the William S. Hart Union High School District. Engbrecht added that the figures from Opportunities For Learning, an alternative school, kind of skew the district’s rate.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said that caution should be used when calculating dropout rates for alternative schools like Opportunities For Learning.

“In many cases, alternative schools serve only those students who are already at the greatest risk of dropping out of school because of their prior academic challenges,” O’Connell said in a statement.

For the first time, the dropout and graduation data released by the California Department of Education was compiled using the new Statewide Student Identifier, which assigns a unique identification number to all students, allowing easier tracking of transfers and withdrawals.

“This new system that the state has implemented tracks every student,” Engbrecht said. “Using the unique statewide identifier, the California Department of Education can determine whether or not a student who withdraws from one school actually enrolls in another school.”

Since the new system includes “lost transfers” — students who have said they are transferring, but their identification number does not show up at another state school — into the dropout figures, districts are expected to see a rise in their dropout rate, Engbrecht said. Comparisons between this year’s figures and the dropout rates from last year cannot really be made, since they are based on different information, she said.

The Hart district dropout rate for 2005-06 was 1.7 percent, with 271 dropouts reported. Engbrecht said that once the district determines where some of the lost transfers are enrolled, the 2006-07 dropout data should improve.

“We assume that some of the students in the younger grades who are listed as dropouts have in fact left the state or possibly the county and are attending school,” Engbrecht said. “Right now we know that there are students who are considered lost transfers who we’ll be able to account for during the data correction window in August.”

Opportunities for Learning had more than 300 lost transfers that counted as dropouts, while the rest of the schools in the Hart district had only 65 lost transfers at the time the data was collected by the state.


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