The graduation rate in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District improved by nearly 2% last year, according to state data released Thursday.
The districtwide graduation rate increased to 94.8% in 2009-10 from 93.2% in 2008-09. One campus, Early College High School, had a rare-for-Orange County 100% graduation rate, according to data from the state Department of Education.
Asst. Supt. of Secondary Education Charles Hinman said the data came as no surprise with Newport-Mesa's tradition of achieving high graduation rates.
"I'm thrilled," he said. "It's exciting, but we've been celebrating that for some time."
Newport-Mesa students graduate at a higher rate than the countywide average of 87.5% and significantly higher than the statewide average, 80.4%.
Every Newport-Mesa school scored higher than both the state and county rates.
Hinman attributed the district's achievement to the school board's expectation that every student should succeed. The board's adamant belief set a target for staff, he said.
To explain why more students were graduating, he also pointed to the alternative schools — Monte Vista High School is a model continuation school — and the implementation of a credit recovery program for students who need to make up classes.
"It's really hard to slip through the cracks here," he said.
Early College had the highest rate of success, with every student in its first senior class graduating, according to the data.
"That's outstanding, absolutely, and they're a model of what we should all work toward," Hinman said.
Back Bay High School had the highest jump: 89.3% from 81.7% the previous year. Estancia High School's score also rose nearly 4%, to 93.8%.
Newport Harbor High School rose exactly 1%, to 96.2%.
Despite the overall increase, the rates at three schools dropped slightly.
Monte Vista High School graduated the lowest percentage of students, at 87.8%. Its score slipped by 3% from last year.
Corona del Mar and Costa Mesa high school's rates also fell, by 0.2% from the previous year. Still, CdM and Costa Mesa respectively graduated 98.3% and 92% of their students in 2009-10, according to the data.
Hinman said he is concerned about the decreases, but said it's important to look at the bigger picture and not get wrapped up in data for one year.
Still, the district will investigate the data to find what caused the dips, he said.