Sonoma County Office of Education

Sonoma County sees increase in graduation rate

04/11/2017 - Graduation Pic

The rate of students graduating from high school in Sonoma County has steadily risen by nearly ten percentage points in the last seven years, County Superintendent Steve Herrington announced.

Sonoma County’s graduation rate in 2015-16 was 84.4 percent compared with 74.7 percent in 2009-10, according to California Department of Education data released today. It's also up 1.5 points from the prior year alone: In 2014-15, the graduation rate was 82.9. The rate is also above the state average of 83.2 — a record high for the state.

“This is welcome news that our efforts to improve high school graduation rate and college-going rate for local students has paid off,” Herrington said.

A particularly dramatic increase took place among students identifying as Hispanic or Latino, a population that now makes up 45 percent of students enrolled in Sonoma County public schools. In 2009-10, only 65.9 percent of students in this demographic graduated with their class. By 2015-16, that number had risen by 15 percentage points, to a rate of 81 percent. This also represented a marked narrowing of the achievement gap in recent years. In 2009-10, the Hispanic/Latino graduation rate trailed the county average by almost 9 points. In 2015-16, the gap was just 3.4 points.

“This is encouraging progress,” Herrington said. "While disparities in achievement remain, these new graduation rates show that we're on the right track in Sonoma County with our efforts to graduate students college- and career-ready.

"Much credit is due to the excellent efforts of our local teachers and administrators who work every day to ensure students are gaining the skills they need to be successful in our changing world,” he said. He cited efforts to build student engagement and enhance the relevance of academic learning to modern-day life as key to improving graduation rates. He also gave credit to efforts aimed at providing additional resources to traditionally underserved student populations.

At the same time that graduation rates have increased, fewer Sonoma County students have dropped out of school. The dropout rate decreased from 15.5 percent in 2009-10 to 9.7 percent in 2014-15.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said of the statewide results, “This is great news for our students and families. Graduation rates have gone up seven years in a row, reflecting renewed optimism and increased investments in our schools that have helped reduce class sizes; bring back classes in music, theater, art, dance, and science; and expand career technical education programs that engage our students with hands-on, minds-on learning.”

This is the seventh time this cohort information was calculated, meaning data may only be compared accurately over the six-year period from 2009–10 to 2015-16. Prior to 2009–10, graduation and dropout rates used different calculation systems.

To view and download state, county, district, and school graduation and dropout rates, visit the California Department of Education's DataQuest ( Caution is urged when comparing graduation or dropout rates across individual schools and districts. For example, some county office schools, alternative schools, or dropout recovery high schools serve only those students who are already at the greatest risk of dropping out, compared with the broader population at traditional high schools.