Fresno Unified School district graduation rate increases

Just a few short weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sharing with our community that our four-year cohort graduation rate has risen to a record, 83.8% -- a 4.5% increase over the year prior, and now exceeding the state average.

We are celebrating this milestone as this year's seniors are walking across the graduation stage. The investments from our board and our community are making a difference for our youth!

Investments in facilities through Measure Q and additional student supports are helping teachers, staff and the community work together to improve student outcomes. The district continues to invest in counselors, giving us a ratio of approximately 320:1, which includes social-emotional and academic support and stands as one of the lowest counselors-to-student ratios in the state.

While we will not be satisfied until 100% of our students reach the graduation stage, there is much to be proud of. Each of our comprehensive high schools experienced noteworthy improvements and key student subgroups kept pace, with impressive increases in graduation rates.

- Hispanic students' graduation rates increased by 10.8% over the past five years to 82.3%;

- Asian students' rates rose 9.9% in five years to 90.9%;
- African American students improved rates by 15.2% to 82.1%
- White students' rates increased 7.8%, moving up to 84.2%

I take great pride in seeing this growth in so many of our student subgroups, which make up the largest portion of our student population. Not only are we lifting our students, Fresno Unified is changing the narrative for our community.

Additionally, the four-year cohort dropout rate for the district also experienced a decrease to 11.7 %, down from last year's 14.0% and 15.6% in 2012/13.

These indicators prove that we are moving in the right direction. District data also indicates that with more students finding success in high school, more are pursuing higher education, with 85% of seniors applying to college this year.

With support from employees and the community through our Fresno Unified Scholarship Fund, more students have access to resources to see their dreams come true.

I am especially thankful to Francine and Murray Farber, whose generous support is providing scholarships for Tehipite Middle School students and opportunities for elementary students to experience theater arts. The Farbers are true community partners -- and a great model for others.

With the Board of Education, I want to thank our teachers, staff, students and community for your commitment to ensuring our students have the resources to achieve success. Our hard work is paying off and we are dedicated to keeping this positive momentum going.

With that stated, I want to end with a congratulations to the graduates of 2016. Good luck in your post-secondary journey!