This is an exciting time for Fresno Unified as a variety of initiatives are creating a culture of college-going and career preparation -- resulting in heightened academic success for students.
The hard work of staff and students is evident in a number of ways, including:
- Improved state test scores
- A record-high graduation rate
- Increased numbers of students applying for and attending college
- Large numbers of students involved in arts, athletics and other activities that better connect them to school
"We are thrilled and encouraged by the success our students are achieving on a number of fronts. The hard work and dedication of staff, and the support of our community, is coming to fruition with test scores, graduation rates and in many other areas," said Superintendent Michael Hanson. "At the same time, there is much more we need to achieve on behalf of our students, to help them learn and grow."
Students Improve on State Tests
In late August, the district learned good news about state testing results. Last spring, students took the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) standardized tests and for the first time in 15 years gained in both English language arts (ELA) and mathematics, at every grade level tested.
While overall percentages of students meeting or exceeding standards remain lower than what the district is striving for, at 31% in ELA and 22% in mathematics, Fresno Unified is encouraged the the improvement in scores.
Gains are also evident in every substantially represented student group in the district, including Hispanic, African American, Asian, and white students, as well as the district's English learner students.
Graduation Rates Up
Fresno Unified students are graduating at the highest rate in at least a decade, a result of the district's increased efforts to break down barriers that have kept students from obtaining their diploma.
The district's four-year graduation rate for 2014-15 was 83.8%, an increase of 4.5% over the 2013-14 rate of 79.3%, according to data released in May by the California Department of Education.
The graduation rate increased for several substantially represented student groups in 2014-15, including all groups with over 50 students.
- Graduation rates for Hispanics students rose from 77.6% in 2013-14 to 82.3% in 2014-15, compared to the national Hispanic graduation rate of 71% for 2011-12 (the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics).
- Rates for African-American students rose from 73.1% in 2013-14 to 82.1% in 2014-15, compared to the national African-American graduation rate of 68% for 2011-12 (the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics).
In addition, the four-year dropout rate for the district cohort is 11.7%, lower than the previous year's 14.0%, and down from 15.6% in 2012-13.
The district's 4.5% increase was the second largest graduation rate increase compared to other large school districts that are part of the California Office to Reform Education (CORE) with Fresno Unified. Only San Francisco Unified School District, with a gain of 5%, surpassed Fresno Unified.
College Going on the Rise
District data indicates that with more students finding success in high school, more are pursuing higher education, with 85% of seniors applying to college in 2015-16.
More than 5,000 high school students are enrolled in Advanced Placement courses and more than 5,000 high school students are enrolled in career technical education (CTE) courses.
Students Pursue Arts, Activities and Athletics
Students have to be in school to learn and one way of connecting students to their school and adults at their school is encouraging them to participate in arts, activities and athletics -- the Fresno Unified Board of Education's adopted Goal 2.
With expanded options for students, 64% of district students participated in Goal 2 activities during the past school year. That number is expected to rise as the district expands arts programs, increases transportation for Goal 2 activities and ensures high-quality athletic facilities and coaches.