The City’s student dropout rate decreasing 

Abraham Lincoln High School’s Barnaby Payne can rate the success of his students by their involvement.

Payne, principal of Lincoln, said the more engaged a student is, the more likely they are to remain in school and, hopefully, graduate.

"It’s not enough for kids to just get up in the morning, go to class, do their work then come home and go to bed," he said. "They have to find a way to be connected to the school."

The efforts Payne — who has been at Lincoln for five years and principal for two — and his staff have been making to engage the 2,497 students have been paying off.

The dropout rate at Lincoln has gone from 45 students — 9 percent — in the 2007-08 school year to 15 — 3.7 percent — in the 2008-09 school year.

Similarly, Galileo High School and Ida B. Wells High School had large decreases in dropouts. Galileo went from 57 — or 13 percent — of its 2,237 student population leaving school in the 2007-08 year to 13 — or 3.2 percent — in 2008-09. Wells went from losing 64 of its 245 students in 2007-08 to only 25 of its 234 students in 2008-09.

In the San Francisco Unified School District, the number of students who abandoned their education was reduced by nearly 50 percent, according to data released Tuesday by the California Department of Education.

An estimated 325 students were reported as dropouts in The City in the 2008-09 school year, which is down from 742 students in the 2007-08 school year. There were 19,074 high school students in San Francisco in 2008-09.

Statewide, though, the dropout rate has increased, going from 18.9 percent in 2007-08 school year to 21.7 percent in 2008-09. It’s a trend San Francisco has been able to avoid.

Payne said vocational programs in specialized biotech or finance fields offer smaller class sizes. College-focused curriculum and professional development at The City’s 14 comprehensive high schools have also contributed to the reduction.

The district began offering more opportunities for students to retake courses they’ve failed and graduate on time through online programs, after school or in the summer, district spokeswoman Gentle Blythe said.

An increased effort in fighting truancy is also thought to have helped keep kids in school.

Two years ago, the district partnered with District Attorney Kamala Harris and the Mayor’s Office to hold parents of students that are habitually truant — missing 18 days or more — accountable.

Harris’ office prosecuted a number of parents, and the district has begun offering families support to get children to school.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

 

Staying in school

The number of dropouts in the San Francisco Unified School District has dropped in the past few years.

 

SFUSD dropout percentage

2008-09

9.1 percent

Dropouts:325

Enrollment: 19,074

 

2007-08

17.9 percent

Dropouts: 742

Enrollment: 19,034

 

2006-07

19.6 percent

Dropouts: 769

Enrollment: 20,050

 

Source: California Department of Education

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