California graduation rates improve for black and Latino students

According to California State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson, the graduation rate for California has reached a record high of 83 percent for the most recent graduation data, with significant improvements made in graduation rates for minority students as well.

In 2016, graduation rates for African-American students also hit a record high, of 72.6 percent. For Latino students, that number was 80 percent, a slight increase from the prior year.

According to Torlakson, the improved graduation rates can at least partially be explained by the change in the suspension and discipline policies in California from a focus on punishment to a focus on solutions. “(Students) were adrift in our streets and often getting into trouble,” he said. “For some, being kicked out of school was a ‘reward’ because they didn’t like being in school.”

Torlakson praised programs that focused on restorative justice and in-school counseling that try to reach students before they can drop out.