This is an excerpt of On Assignment, education writer Theresa Harrington's blog on Contra Costa County schools. Read more and post comments at IBABuzz.com/onassignment. Follow her at Twitter.com/tunedtotheresa.

April 12

The state's annual release of graduation and dropout rates earlier this week showed that graduation rates improved in four Contra Costa County districts but dropped in five.

On the other side of the spectrum, dropout rates improved in six districts, grew worse in two and remained the same in one.

On both measures, overall countywide results were stronger than those statewide, with 83.5 percent of students graduating in four years in Contra Costa County, compared to 78.5 percent throughout California. Of the nine individual county districts that include high schools, three had graduation rates that fell below the state average, while six exceeded it.

Statewide, a higher percentage of students graduated in 2012 than in 2011, while fewer dropped out, said Tom Torlakson, state Superintendent of Public Instruction, when he released the results Tuesday.

"While I am glad to announce that we are moving in the right direction," he said, "the fact remains that we must keep moving to ensure that every California student graduates ready to succeed in the world they will find outside our classrooms."


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Here's how Contra Costa County districts stacked up in 2011 and 2012. Please note that the two percentages don't add up to 100 because they don't account for students who have left California or are still in school.

Acalanes: 97.3 percent graduation rate in 2012, up from 96.7 in 2011; 1.3 percent dropout rate in 2012, same as 2011 rate.

Antioch: 74.5 percent graduation rate in 2012, up from 73.8 in 2011; 14.6 percent dropout rate in 2012, down from 18.0 percent in 2011.

John Swett: 87.7 percent graduation rate in 2012, up from 87.6 percent in 2011; 8.5 percent dropout rate in 2012, down from 8.8 percent in 2011.

Liberty: 85.4 percent graduation rate in 2012, down from 85.6 percent in 2011; 4.0 dropout rate in 2012, down from 5.2 in 2011.

Martinez: 85.0 percent graduation rate in 2012, down from 89.9 in 2011; 8.8 dropout rate in 2012, up from 4.2 in 2011.

Mt. Diablo: 81.1 percent graduation rate in 2012, down from 81.9 in 2011; 14.2 percent dropout rate in 2012, up from 11.7 in 2011.

Pittsburg: 70.1 percent graduation rate in 2012, up from 66.0 in 2011; 21.3 percent dropout rate in 2012, down from 25.9 percent in 2011.

San Ramon Valley: 97.0 graduation rate in 2012, down from 97.1 in 2011; 1.6 percent dropout rate in 2012, up from 1.5 in 2011.

West Contra Costa: 75.2 percent graduation rate in 2012, down from 77.0 percent in 2011; 18.6 percent dropout rate in 2012, up from 18.1 percent in 2011.

Contra Costa County: 83.5 percent graduation rate in 2012, up from 83.1 percent in 2011; 10.1 percent dropout rate in 2012, down from 10.6 percent in 2011.

State: 78.5 percent graduation rate in 2012, up from 77.1 percent in 2011; 13.2 percent dropout rate in 2012, down from 14.7 in 2011.

Alameda County districts in the Tri-Valley area surpassed the statewide results as well as those countywide. Here's how they compared:

Dublin: 92.3 percent graduation rate in 2012, down from 92.7 percent in 2011; 4.1 percent dropout rate in 2012, up from 2.1 percent in 2011.

Livermore Valley: 90.8 percent graduation rate in 2012, down from 91.1 percent in 2011; 7.5 percent dropout rate in 2012, up from 7.0 percent in 2011.

Pleasanton: 95.7 graduation rate in 2012, up from 95.6 in 2011; 2.1 percent dropout rate in 2012, same as 2011 rate.

Alameda County: 79.4 percent graduation rate in 2012, up from 78.0 percent in 2011; 13.4 percent dropout rate in 2012, down from 15.1 percent in 2011.

Complete statewide results are available by visiting http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest. Under Level, select "district" or "school;" and under Subject, select "graduates."

What do you think East Bay high schools could do to further improve graduation rates and prevent dropouts?