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Study: Untraditional Schools Produce High Dropout Rates
By City News Service
Published February 28, 2008

CNS – Just 100 high schools — many of them charter and alternative schools, and many in the Southland — produce more than 40 percent of the state’s high school dropouts, researchers have reported.

The district with the highest number of dropouts is the Los Angeles Unified School District — accounting for 10,588 dropouts, or 15 percent of the state total, according to the study conducted by UC Santa Barbara researchers at the California Dropout Research Project.

But that’s a function of the district’s size, researchers said. The overall dropout rate of the nation’s second-biggest school district is five percent, ranking the LAUSD 75th among the 531 districts that enroll ninth-through 12th graders.

The study shows that just 100 high schools — out of California’s 2,462 high schools — account for more than 40 percent of the state’s dropouts, according to a statement accompanying the report.

Charter and alternative schools, which together enroll 12 percent of the state’s high school students, “account for a disproportionate number of dropouts,” or about 50 percent, it said.

Of the 10 schools with the highest number of dropouts, seven are charter, two are alternative and one is a traditional high school, according to the study. But it found that such non-traditional schools also account for a majority of the 662 schools that report zero dropouts.

“Many alternative schools serve disadvantaged students who are often not well served in traditional high schools, so school dropout rates, by themselves, do not reveal whether a school is effective or ineffective in improving the likelihood that students will graduate,” noted Rumberger.

“As with traditional public high schools, there are charter and alternative schools that are doing a great job and are models of innovation and others that are not,” he said.

The 100 high schools that account for more than 40 percent of dropouts represent only four percent of the state’s high schools and enroll only 11 percent of all high school students, according to the study.

Drilling down, the researchers working on the study found that 25

California high schools – one percent of the total – account for 21 percent of dropouts.

Of the 25, 13 are in Los Angeles County, two are in Riverside County, two are in San Bernardino County, and the others are in Orange, San Diego, Kern, San Joaquin, Sacramento, Madera, Santa Clara and Nevada counties.

The study also found that the average individual school dropout rate in California is 3.5 percent, with more than half of California high schools having dropout percentages less than or equal to the state average.

Seventy-three high schools, however, have dropout rates greater than 50 percent, according to the study.

Categories: Education

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