By Bay City News Service
In the last school year, nearly a quarter of California's public high school students dropped out before graduating, according to data released Wednesday by the California Department of Education.
A new system that allows the Department of Education to track students using a so-called Statewide Student Identifier -- a unique number assigned to each student -- has revealed that 24.2 percent of high school students in the state's public school system dropped out in the 2006-07 school year, while 67.6 percent graduated.
The remaining 8.2 percent either transferred to a private school, left the state, earned a GED or received a certificate of completion. Those students are not considered graduates or dropouts.
In the 2005-06 school year, the Department of Education estimated that only about 13 percent of students had dropped out.
Education officials have emphasized that dropout rates from previous years should not be compared to this year's dropout rates because the method of calculating those rates is entirely different.
The new data doesn't necessarily represent an increase in the number of students dropping out of school. It does, however, provide a more accurate picture of which students are not making it through California's public education system.