The following is a press release from an organization unaffiliated with Voice of OC. The views expressed here are not those of Voice of OC. 


Deidra Powell
Chief Communications Officer (714) 558-5555 Office
(714) 673-4995 Mobile

Santa Ana Unified School District

Stefanie P. Phillips, Ed.D.


News Release

Santa Ana Unified School District Celebrates 11.5% Gain in Graduation Rates, Surpassing Both State and Orange County Averages

The District is using unique methods – including online learning, evening school and more intervention services – to help students recoup lost credits

SANTA ANA, CA (May 9, 2017) – As the school year winds down, and students are working hard to finish their final projects and exams, the Santa Ana Unified School District is celebrating a significant increase of 11.5% in graduation rates over the last seven years.

The District, which serves approximately 53,000 students in grades K-12, has a 91.6% graduation rate, surpassing the state average of 83.2% and the county average of 90.8%.

“This is an example of the strong focus of the Board of Education on academic excellence and the hard work and dedication of our teachers and staff to ensure that our students are getting the support and resources that they need to excel, graduate from high school, and go on to college or directly into the workforce or military,” said John Palacio, President of the Santa Ana Unified School District Board of Education.

Middle College High School, the District’s Early College High School located on the campus of Santa Ana College, has a 100% graduation rate while Segerstrom High School has a 99.2% rate and Godinez Fundamental High School has a 98.3% rate.

The District’s other four traditional high schools – Century, Saddleback, Santa Ana, and Santa Ana Valley high schools – have all made significant gains, with Saddleback leading with a 24.2% leap within the last seven years.

The school’s efforts to implement programs and resources to support student achievement and prepare students for college was recently noted in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 Best High Schools List. Middle College, Godinez, and Segerstrom were also included on the list.

“The success that our school has is a direct reflection of the outstanding efforts, hard work, dedication and love that our staff has for our kids,” said Eddie Bustamante, Principal at Saddleback High School. “We at Saddleback believe in every one of our students. Therefore, we take the time to invest both academically and emotionally and to meet their needs and to ensure that they learn every day.”

Saddleback has an enrollment of approximately 1,627 students with 96.1% of its population being identified as socioeconomically disadvantaged and 94.5% Latino. Furthermore, the school is home to 23.8% English learners. The school has recently been approved to become an International Baccalaureate World School, a prestigious program that exemplifies rigor and academic excellence.

While the District is making sure that students have the support and resources needed to be academically successful to graduate from high school, they are also providing a seamless transition to college through a strong partnership with Santa Ana College.

Students at Century and Godinez Fundamental high schools, for example, can take college courses during the school day on their high school campuses through a program called College Now. And students at Santa Ana, Saddleback, and Santa Ana Valley high schools are able to dual enroll in college courses that are offered on their campuses after the school day.

Upon graduation from SAUSD, students receive free tuition and a laptop when enrolled full-time at Santa Ana College through a partnership between SAUSD and Santa Ana College. After completing their studies at Santa Ana College, SAUSD students have the opportunity to access guaranteed transfer admission to California State University Fullerton or University of California Irvine, as long as they meet the transfer requirements through a program called Adelante, uniquely designed for Santa Ana Unified School District students.

“The Santa Ana Unified School District has some of the best and brightest students in Orange County who are eager to learn and maximize their full potential,” said Dr. Stefanie Phillips, Superintendent of the Santa Ana Unified School District. “We have amazing programs and resources that are specifically designed to prepare our students for college and careers. Our steady climb in our graduation rates is evidence of our commitment to academic excellence.”

The District attributes the increased graduation rates to a collaborative effort districtwide and multi-faceted approach that includes:

  •   Increased use of online learning to allow students to make up courses
  •   Evening school to accommodate students who must work in the daytime and who may need to make upcourses
  •   Creation of a department that is specifically trained and focused to help students connect to programsand recapture those who may have veered off track
  •   Enhanced summer school opportunities to decrease credit deficiencies each year
  •   After school and Saturday tutoring for students who need additional academic support
  •   Improved intervention and prevention services
  •   Increased mental health services to support the emotional and mental needs of students

About the District

The Santa Ana Unified School District is the seventh largest district in California and the largest in Orange County. The district serves the educational needs of nearly 53,000 students in prekindergarten through twelfth grade. Ninety-six percent of SAUSD students are Latino.

Approximately 60 percent of students are English learners, the majority of whom speak Spanish. About 91 percent of students are designated as coming from low-income families.

Santa Ana Unified is the home to 36 elementary schools, nine intermediate schools, seven high schools, three alternative schools, one dependent charter school, and a child-development center. The district boasts many indicators of excellence, including having Segerstrom High School, Godinez Fundamental High School, Saddleback High School and Middle College High School ranked among the best high schools in the country by US News and World Report in 2017 and having MacArthur Fundamental Intermediate and Middle College High School honored as California Gold Ribbon Schools for 2017.

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