By Canan Tasci Staff Writer
Created: 08/11/2011 11:33:59 PM PDT

Only about 70 percent of the Inland Empire’s students who entered high school in 2006 wore a cap and gown in spring 2010, according to the state Department of Education.

The statewide average for the class of 2010 was 74 percent.

In San Bernardino County, 69 percent of 35,105 students graduated, while 21 percent dropped out. Official Data: San Bernardino County districts

Los Angeles County schools graduated 71 percent of their 133,824 students, while 20 percent dropped out.

Remaining seniors in both counties were still enrolled or special-education students.

The class of 2010 is the first registered in the state’s Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, which followed students for four years.

In previous years, the system did not account for students who transferred in or out of a district and often overestimated the graduation rate.

“The new benchmarks do not change the reality that our county’s dropout rates remain too high and our graduation rates are too low,” said Gary Thomas, the San Bernardino County superintendent.

Official Databases: California Dept. of Education

“It remains vital to the long-term economic viability of our region that we keep more of our students in school and on the path to earning a high school degree.”

Only two Inland Valley school districts graduated less than 80 percent of their 2010 seniors – Fontana Unified and Pomona Unified.

Claremont Unified topped all school districts with almost 91 percent of its class of 2010 graduating, while Bonita Unified, which includes schools in La Verne and San Dimas, had 89 percent.

In San Bernardino County, Redlands Unified topped all districts at 89.

Upland Unified graduated 86 percent, Chino Valley 83, Chaffey Joint Union High 82 and Fontana Unified 77.

A Chaffey district official said the biggest difference with this data is that they’re able to track students who are coming in and out of the system, which they weren’t able to do in the past.

“This is a more accurate formula,” said Jeff Ellingsen, Chaffey’s director of research/assessment.

Ellingsen said as a district that has schools in Ontario, Montclair and Rancho Cucamonga, they give a high priority to the dropout and graduates rates regardless of the numbers.

“The only judgment we can make is that this new way of calculating graduation/dropout rate becomes baseline data and the one thing we can tout about is we are above the (state and county) graduation rate,” Ellingsen said. “Which is where we want to be.”

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