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Detroit Praised For 65 Percent Graduation Rate, Increase Echoed Across The State

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) A 5 percent spike in Detroit's high school graduation rate -- to 65 percent -- and a 1.9 percent increase across the state earned bragging rights Wednesday.

The statewide four-year graduation rates for students expected to graduate last spring increased to 76 percent, up 1.9 percent from the 2011's 74 percent, according to data released Wednesday by the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information.

More than 53 percent of Michigan's school districts saw higher graduation rates, including many of the largest districts. Detroit Public Schools boosted its graduation rate by a full 5 percent, from 59 percent to 64 percent. Of the 14 school districts with 1,000 or more students in the senior class, all but three improved their graduation rates between 2011 and 2012.

"This is more positive news for Michigan public schools," said State Superintendent Mike Flanagan. "This is reflective of how our teachers and students are succeeding with the rigorous Michigan Merit Curriculum and being better prepared to continue Michigan's economic comeback. We must stay on this positive course and keep our standards high and Michigan Merit Curriculum intact."

Detroit's graduation rate is its highest since 2006, while closing the gap with statewide rates by greater than three percentage points. The district's dropout rate also decreased by nearly a point to 19 percent, with Detroit graduating 3,805 students in June 2012.

The district had 5 schools with graduation rates above 90 percent. They are:
• Crockett High School (now merged into East English Village Prep) – 95.59 percent
• Renaissance High School – 95.47 percent
• Cass Technical High School – 94.31 percent
• Communication and Media Arts High School– 92.74 percent
• Detroit School of Arts – 92.26 percent

"We said it earlier this week when we announced the improvements in our MEAP scores and we'll say it again with our increased graduation rate: we have a long way to go but we are definitely moving in the right direction as it relates to providing the children of Detroit with a solid educational experience that will prepare them for both college and career," said Detroit Schools Emergency Financial Manager Roy S. Roberts. "We are all working very hard, but we must keep pushing forward to not only sustain this positive momentum, but to accelerate it."

The announcement regarding the increase in Detroit Public Schools' graduation rates comes on the heels of news this week that the district's students scored record gains on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program Test for the fall of 2012, with improvement in 17 out of 18 assessments.

According to Karen Ridgeway, Superintendent of Academics, some of the district-wide strategies to improve graduation rates included:
• Improved communications between high school counselors and students to ensure students completed coursework on time and stayed on track;
• A more robust second-chance program to ensure students had ample opportunity to make up courses, decreasing the number of students in summer school;
• More rigorous and relevant coursework with direct connections to career- and college readiness to ensure students understood why they were taking courses like geometry and why they were relevant to college and careers;
• Improved record-keeping to ensure accuracy of recorded passing rates.

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