Calif. High School Dropout Rate Nearly 1 in 5;

What are those kids doing in the middle of the day? It's not going to school: the statewide dropout rate is nearly 20 percent, according to data released Thursday.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP

    Feel bad about slinging lattes with a masters degree? Take heart, you the overeducated: you're better off than nearly 20 percent of California's youth, who haven't even graduated high school.

    The state's dropout rate is an alarming 18.2 percent, according to data released Thursday. That means 94,000 teenagers are hitting the streets every year without a diploma -- and it gets worse. 17,000 eighth-graders quit school before attending a day of high school, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

    The good news is that 74 percent of the state's high school students do graduate on time, and another seven percent were either still in school, albeit behind their freshman classmates, or had earned a GED, according to what is considered to be the state's first-ever accurate assessment of the dropout rate. Earlier data sets, which reported dropout rates between 11 and 22 percent, were considered to be inaccurate.

    In the Bay Area, it gets better -- but it also gets worse. Only 53 percent of Oakland's 3,200 high school students graduated in four years, according to the Chronicle. A total of 37 percent dropped out, and the numbers are worse for African American, Filipino and Hispanic students, fewer than half of which graduate. A district spokesman called the numbers "dismal."

    In San Francisco, things are better, with 82 percent of students graduating and 11 percent dropping out. Also in San Francisco, things are worse for kids of color, with 19 percent of Hispanic and African Americans dropping out.