High school graduation rates are up – but students’ access to quality courses still varies from school to school.

Last school year, the San Diego Unified School District touted a 92 percent high school graduation rate – an increase despite the district’s new, tougher graduation requirements. The new standards mean students must successfully complete the same high school courses required for admission into California State University and University of California schools.

But it seems not all students in the district receive equal support to succeed within and beyond the new standards.

On this week’s podcast, Andrea Guerrero, executive director at Alliance San Diego, a social justice organization, joined co-hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn to talk about education inequity across San Diego Unified and how her organization pushes the district to raise expectations for more students.

“Your ZIP code is not your destiny and we needed the school district to understand that,” she said. “There’s still a disparity in AP and IB course offerings … these are the courses that go beyond making you eligible for the UC and CSU [colleges], these are the courses that make you competitive. You can have a high-performing school … look inside and understand that not all of the students are getting the same kind of access to programs.”

English-learners and refugee students are most at risk, Guerrero said.

Lewis and Kohn also discuss the pros and cons of measuring school success by graduation rates.

Got thoughts, opinions or experiences with this? Call 619-354-1085 and leave your name, neighborhood and story so we can play the voicemail on future episodes.

Number of the Week

952: That’s the number of students last school year who passed San Diego Unified School District’s multilingual test as an alternative to the requirement of passing two years of language courses –four times more students than the previous year.

What’s Working

California State University San Marcos signed an Alliance to Accelerate Excellence in Education, which guarantees admission to students from 10 school districts who meet admissions requirements. San Diego State University offers a similar admissions guarantee to local students.

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Rachel Evans

Rachel Evans is a reporter for Voice of San Diego. She can be reached at rachel.evans@voiceofsandiego.org

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