Updated at 6:25 p.m. Aug. 11 with statements from CUSD spokesman Marcus Walton.
In 2010, boasted one of the highest graduation rates in Orange County.
It ranked third and also claimed the second-lowest dropout rate, according to the California Department of Education, which on Thursday released the latest figures for the class of 2010.
“Our teachers and administrators deserve a huge round of applause for this result,” said Trustee Anna Bryson.
The state used different methods of calculation this year, so the department cautioned against comparing Thursday’s figures with results from previous years.
The graduation rate in Capistrano Unified for the class of 2010 was 94.6 percent, right behind ’s 95.5 percent and top-achieving Irvine Unified with a graduation rate of 96.8 percent.
Neighboring school districts in South Orange County were not far behind. Saddleback Valley Unified had a 92.5 percent graduation rate, and boasted a graduation rate of 94 percent.
District spokesman Marcus Walton said that the fact that the state's numbers show that nearly 98 percent of Capistrano Unified students had either earned their diplomas, earned a special education certificate or are continuing to work towards high school completion "is a testament to the teachers, students and families that support our schools."
Capistrano far outpaced the average graduation rate in Orange County, which was 81.7 percent overall. Statewide, California saw a graduation rate of 74.4 percent last year.
Capistrano’s dropout rate of 2.4 percent was second-lowest in the county, behind only Irvine, which had a 2 percent dropout rate in 2010. Statewide, that figure was 18.2 percent; countywide, 14 percent.
Despite the good standing, Bryson said, school officials aim to improve the district's rank.
“Is it good enough?" she asked. "No, but I am confident we can and will continue to move the bar higher until we have the lowest dropout rates, not [second] in the county.”
Walton agreed, saying there is always room for improvement. "Which is why this district has chosen to focus on refining the development, design, and delivery of classroom lessons," he said.
Like state and countywide statistics, Capistrano’s numbers indicate an achievement gap—albeit narrower—between Hispanic and white students. The graduation rate among Hispanics locally is 89.4 percent (compared with the 95.8 percent graduation rate among whites), while statewide it is only 67.7 percent. In Orange County, the average graduation rate among Hispanics was slightly better, at 71.1 percent.
When looking strictly at the graduation rates for Hispanics, Capistrano Unified places fifth in the county, behind Los Alamitos (97.5 percent), Irvine (94.8 percent), Brea-Olinda Unified (94.3 percent) and Tustin Unifed (91.5 percent).
Still, Bryson believes Capistrano’s performance among Hispanics is a sign that a move the board of trustees made five years ago to focus on is working.
“These children will be a majority of the citizens in California's future, and they deserve our best effort,” she said. “The destiny of California will rest in large part on them. They can achieve, and it is imperative that they do.”
Bryson, a , said she is disturbed by the statewide statistics. “California's numbers overall are not acceptable, I will be interested to see how the state Department of Education and districts deal with them,” she said. “Wake up, California. There is no time left to move this issue.”
Graduation/dropout rates by high school for class of 201097.5 .09 95.7 2.5 Dana Hills High School 95.1 1.8 Junipero Serra High School 81.9 10.7 93.5 1.8 Tesoro High School 97.7 2
* did not have a graduating class in 2010.