Spotlight on HS Dropouts

The good news is that the dropout rate for Santa Barbara’s high schools is not as high as the statewide average of 24 percent, but, at 9.4 percent, that figure is still a lot higher than most members of the school board thought. “Compared to the state and the nation, we’re doing a good job,” said School Board member Nancy Harter. According to a new statewide study from UCSB, Dos Pueblos has the lowest drop rate, 5.3 percent, with Santa Barbara High School at 8.1 and San Marcos at 11.4. The state found that in 2007, 162 students dropped out of Santa Barbara’s three high schools before completing the 12th grade. Dos Pueblos reported 30, Santa Barbara High School 49, and San Marcos 62. Harter suggested the standardized high school exit exam might have caused the larger than expected numbers. “These numbers are not randomly distributed but concentrated among those from low socio-economic or Latino subgroups,” added boardmember Bob No»l. Of the 162 dropouts, 87 were Latino. No»l said the picture gets even grimmer when comparing the performance of Santa Barbara’s poor and Latino high school students with those from similar high schools throughout the state. Other schools in which students from low socio-economic backgrounds performed similarly to Santa Barbara High School’s, No»l said, included Los Angeles’s Franklin High School, in a neighborhood where the federal government is now charging Latino gangs there with waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against African-American residents.

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