Black and Latino graduation rates are up in San Francisco

A high-school classroom in San Francisco.

San Francisco high-school graduation rates are up over last year, and for black, brown, foster children and homeless teens the news is even better. San Francisco's students are working hard in class and graduating in ever-greater numbers.

Galileo Academy of Science and Technology senior Nia Black says college has always been the plan—and that starts with graduating high school. 

"I think that it's more a must to go to college now. More people think you're not going to be successful if you don't," said Black.

The latest dashboard report from the state shows the city's graduation rate rose to 89% from 87% last year. 

High-school students in San Francisco.

When it comes to minority students, the increases are even greater. African American students' graduation rate is now at 89.5% up more than 8% from last year.

For Latino students, graduation rates now stand at 79.9% up nearly 3%. 

The graduation rates for foster, homeless students, and almost every category of students saw increases.

The district says a number of factors, from mentor programs to a concerted effort to bring up African American graduation rates for the last four and a half years are paying off. 

"Overall, we have climbs throughout the district," said Dr. Vincent Matthews, San Francisco Superintendent of Schools. "We've increased the graduation rate, we're closing achievement gaps and that's what this work is all about."

Galileo counselor Madeline Johnson credits "make up" classes at night and in summer schools so students can move past failed classes, is also a major factor. In addition, having frank conversations about the earning potential students will have if they graduate has helped. 

"When you don't have that high school diploma you're missing some of the skills, whether it’s interpersonal skills, or organizational skills or critical thinking skills that they're gaining in high school," said Johnson.

High school senior Nia Black says working with her counselor helped her stay on track. She knows graduating with a diploma is the first step to achieving her dreams. 

"I want to be a civil rights attorney, and an activist and I also want to own a law firm," said Black.

The district also credits an ongoing program taking students to colleges and universities in the area and visiting some of the city's biggest businesses like Salesforce and Google with inspiring the students to graduate, and visualize a world beyond high school.