Local News

New school data show progress, but achievement gap lingers

By From page A1 | April 30, 2013

New batches of data from the California Department of Education covering graduation rates, dropout rates and the number of student discipline cases offer snapshots of student performance in the Davis school district during the past year.

Graduation: The graduation rate for Davis students increased from 91.8 percent in 2010-11 to 94.9 percent in 2011-12, according to the state data.

In an email message to parents and the community, Superintendent Winfred Roberson said he was “extremely pleased to see that thanks to the hard work of our students, teachers and parents and the support of the Davis Academic Center (at Davis High), the graduation rate for our Latino students increased from 77.1 percent in 2010-11 to 92.2 percent in 2011-12. This is 15 percent higher than the (graduation) rate for Latino students across California.”

The graduation rate for Davis’ white students was 94.4 percent in 2011-12, and for Asian students, 97.5 percent. Those figures both reflect a slight rise from the previous year. The stats also showed all 12 African-American seniors in the Davis district graduating.

Statewide, 78.5 percent of California students graduate from high school, according to state figures.

Roberson noted that “earning a high school diploma results in an average increase of about 40 percent in lifetime earnings, reduces the rate of incarceration by 35 percent, and opens the door for all the opportunities in college and beyond.”

Dropout: Looking at the same state data from the other end, the figures show the dropout rate among high school students in Davis running 1.7 percent for Asian students, 2.1 percent for white students and 4.9 percent for Latino students. Other ethnic subgroups were not reported because of smaller enrollment in Davis.

Statewide, the dropout rate was 8.4 percent for white students, 5.6 percent for Asian students, 16.2 percent for Latino students and 22.2 percent for African-American students.

UC/CSU requirements: There is still evidence of an achievement gap in the 2011-12 statistics for the percentage of high school graduates in Davis completing all courses required for University of California and/or California State University admission. For Davis, the state reported that 86.9 percent of Asian students and 72 percent of white students met the college admission requirements, but those figures were only 63.7 percent for African-Americans and 39 percent for Latinos.

Statewide, the corresponding numbers were 66.5 percent for Asians, 54.4 percent for whites, 38.1 percent for African-Americans and 27.3 percent for Latinos.

The higher percentages for Davis are not surprising, given that census data indicates a very high percentage of adults living in Davis have earned a college degree of some kind. Numerous studies have indicated there is a considerable correlation between a high parent education level and the likelihood of their children graduating from high school and going on to college.

Suspensions, expulsions, truancy: The state data indicated there were 338 student suspensions and four student expulsions in the Davis district during 2011-12.

Among the 338 students who were suspended, roughly half were at the high school level. For the purposes of comparison, the state computes a school district’s “suspension rate” by taking the number of suspensions divided by the district’s cumulative enrollment. Davis’ rate was 3.8 percent, compared to 5.7 percent statewide.

Students who are suspended or expelled sometimes cross the line in more than one area, so the number of student offenses reported in the state data is larger than the number of suspensions and expulsions. The most common offense reported among Davis students during 2011-12, by far, was “disruption, defiance,” with 554 incidents reported in cases involving student suspension.

There were also 115 incidents involving “caused, attempted or threatened physical injury,” plus 59 reported incidents involving “possession, use, sale or furnishing a controlled substance, alcohol or intoxicant.” Additionally, there were 17 reported incidents involving “obscene acts, profanity and vulgarity,” plus 16 reported incidents involving “possession, sale, furnishing a firearm or knife.”

Additionally there were another 15 reported incidents involving “property theft” and another 15 reported incidents involving “bullying.”

Regarding expulsion, there were four incidents involving “disruption, defiance,” two involving “possession, use, sale or furnishing a controlled substance, alcohol, intoxicant” and two involving “possession of a knife of dangerous object.” There were also nine reported incidents (spread over nine categories) relating to student expulsion.

When Davis statistics were examined by ethnic subgroup, there were a total of 186 suspensions and two expulsions involving Latino students, 305 suspensions and one expulsion involving white students, 31 suspensions and one expulsion involving Asian students and 27 suspensions involving African-American students.

The district’s overall enrollment is 59 percent white, 18 percent Latino, 16 percent Asian, and 3 percent African-American, according to the state Department of Education statistics. The student suspension numbers indicate that a higher percentage of local Latino and African-American students were suspended last year as compared with white and Asian students.

The state calculated Davis’ truancy ratio at 15.3 (truants divided by cumulative enrollment), which compares to a statewide truancy ratio of 28.5.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055.


Jeff Hudson

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