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Burbank Unified announces improved graduation rate

Burbank Unified announces improved graduation rate
John Paramo, Burbank Unified's director of secondary education, shares a moment with others at a Burbank Arts for All Foundation event. He recently reported that 97% of Burbank Unified high school students graduated or earned a certificate of attendance. (Raul Roa / Burbank Leader)

John Paramo, Burbank Unified’s director of secondary education, said this week that 97% of the district’s high school seniors graduated or earned a certificate of attendance during the 2017-18 school year, up by 1.5% from the previous school year.

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Of the district’s 1,283 students eligible for graduation from Burbank, Burroughs and Monterey high schools, 1,246 received their diplomas or earned a certificate of attendance by summer’s end.

“We have made good progress, but 100% is still our goal,” Burbank Unified Supt. Matt Hill said. “I firmly believe that every student who enrolls in a [Burbank Unified] school should receive a diploma. It may take more than four years, but we need to work with all students to ensure they have the support they need to ultimately obtain their diplomas.”

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Burbank’s 97% rate is a little less than the rates for 2014-15 (98.8%) and 2015-16 (98%).

Other than graduation, some students earned a certificate of attendance, which in California is given to those who complete the 12th grade but have not necessarily earned the credits to graduate.

“Sometimes our special education students who have specific disabilities can’t meet the same requirements of a normal diploma,” Paramo said. “They’re showing up to school every day for four years, and they’re working toward their [educational] goals and sometimes they just don’t meet state standards.”

Students who did not graduate this spring or summer then fell into one of two categories.

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Twenty-four students are continuing as fifth-year students, while 13 are designated as non-graduates.

Breaking those numbers down more shows that 584 Burbank High, 609 Burroughs High and 53 Monterey seniors graduated.

Seventeen Monterey students are continuing on to a fifth year, while four Burbank and three Burroughs students have taken that option. Also, Burbank High had seven non-graduates, while Burroughs reported six.

Paramo said the fifth-year option is offered to students “showing up to school every day and successfully earning credits, but not having enough time to finish them all.”

If students don’t graduate after a fifth year, they have an opportunity to continue at Burbank Adult School, where they can earn credits or prepare to take a General Education Diploma test.

The district has been tracking its non-graduates the past four years and has 15 non-graduates from the 2014-15 school year, 26 from 2015-16 and six from 2016-17.

The district also keeps records of a cohort rate, which is the number of freshmen from a specific class who end up graduating four years later.

That rate was 93% in 2014-15, 95% in 2015-16 and 93.2% in 2016-17.

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