Sonoma County Graduation Rate Improves
Sonoma County’s 2019-20 graduation rates rose to 83.4 percent from 81.9 percent the previous year, reversing a downward trend in recent years that can likely be attributed to the natural disasters this county has faced since 2017.
In 2016-17, the graduation rate was 81.9 percent. In 2017-18, it was 80.9; and in 2018-19, was again 81.9. In 2019-20, it rose to 83.4.
Error in Data Reporting Means CDE Results are Inaccurate
The 2019-20 graduation rate reported by the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) differs from that shown on the California Department of Education’s Dataquest website.
This is because a local high school district mistakenly reported that their graduation rate was much lower than it actually was, resulting in an overall low graduation rate for the county. Because the error was not caught in time and was therefore accidentally “certified” by the district, the state will not correct their online database.
Due to the error, the California Department of Education (CDE’s) data will incorrectly show that Sonoma County’s graduation rate is 81.1 percent.
Addressing Student Trauma and Mental Health to Improve Graduation Rate
While this year’s moderate progress shows how hard educators and students are working to overcome the challenges they’ve been dealt, the challenges are far from over and it is important to stay focused on providing students the support they need to graduate.
Graduation rates began falling in 2017-18, following the Tubbs Fire and Russian River flooding.
It is reasonable to expect that the ongoing pandemic and potential future wildfires could continue to negatively impact student wellbeing and graduation rates.
Recent YouthTruth survey data shows that Sonoma County students are uniquely impacted by compounding disasters, and therefore, they need unique supports.
This includes expanding counseling and mental health supports through the recently passed Measure O. Additionally, SCOE has already created a behavioral health support team of mental health counselors to support the increased needs of schools, students, and staff.
Following two county-wide summits on student grades and wellbeing during distance learning, districts are reconsidering how they serve students in unprecedented ways, including scheduling changes, additional social-emotional and mental health supports, more contact with students and families outside of class, and much more. SCOE will continue to lead efforts to reimagine education to better serve students during these unprecedented times.