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More than three-quarters of California's public school students who entered the 9th grade in 2007 were awarded diplomas four years later, the state Department of Education reported today.

The 76.3 percent graduation rate in 2011 was up 1.5 percentage points from the previous year, and gains among Latino, African American and "English learner" students were somewhat higher, state schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson said.

"Every graduate represents a success story in one of the most effective job and anti-poverty programs ever conceived, our public schools," Torlakson said in a statement. "These numbers are a testament to the hard work of teachers and administrators, of parents and, most of all, of the students themselves. While they are a great illustration of all that is going right in California schools, they should also remind us that schools need our support to continue to improve so that every student graduates prepared for college, a career, and to contribute to our state's future."

Torlakson said that the remaining 23.7 percent of 2007's 9th graders who did not graduate in 2011 were not all dropouts. Using the state's new computerized tracking system, the Department of Education calculated that 14.4 percent were dropouts and 9.3 percent were either still enrolled in school, were special education students or had passed a high school equivalency examination.

Asian-American students had the state's highest graduation rate at 89.7 percent while blacks had the lowest at 62.9 percent. Filipinos, at 89 percent, were second highest, followed by non-Latino whites at 85.5 percent, Pacific Islanders at 74.3 percent, Latinos at 70.4 percent, and American Indians at 68 percent.

The new data are broken down not only by ethnicity, but by grade, county, school district and individual school.


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