BROWARD (CBSMiami) – Broward County School District leaders celebrated the graduation rate numbers for 2018-2019 released by the Florida Department of Education on Thursday.
Nowhere did they celebrate more than at South Broward High School, where the school district said the graduation rate increased by five percent over last year.
South Broward High School Principal Patty Brown said she believes it's because of a district wide focus on the whole student, not just their academic achievement. She also believes a new mentor program for struggling 12th graders at the school called "Each One, Reach One" is making a difference.
"Every student in that situation which is roughly about 70 to 75 students they're assigned a mentor," she said.
Brown said that mentor might be a teacher, an administrator, a clerical worker or other school employee who is assigned to oversee the student, track their grades, talk to their parents and communicate with the student each day.
"It's like being kind of an on campus nag," Brown said.
The Broward School District said it's working and the district is touting numbers showing their graduation rate for traditional high schools, charter schools and centers is at an all-time high of 86 percent. That's up nearly two percent over the previous year and the biggest increase among the top five largest school districts in Florida. Traditional high schools alone in Broward had a graduation rate of more than 95 percent last school year.
The district also said graduation rates increased among African American students, Hispanic students and white students.
Superintendent Robert Runcie said the increase is due to hard work from students, teachers, staff and parents.
"We bring it down to a student level," Runcie said at an afternoon news conference. "There's a lot of monitoring, a lot of student support, a lot of intervention to make sure our students get across the finish line.
"We will prepare your child for the best chance at success in life. That's the message that the community needs to take away from what we're trying to do here each and every day."
Statewide, the numbers are up, too. Governor Ron DeSantis tweeted that the graduation rate increased across Florida to nearly 87 percent.
In Miami-Dade, the graduation rate inched up by less than half a percentage point to 85 and a half percent. Still, Miami-Dade Public Schools says that is a slight improvement on last year's historically high number.
At South Broward Principal Brown says there are 575 12th graders and the school tries to focus on each one through the mentor program created last year.
"You can get a little lost in being just one of 575," Brown said. "But 'Each One, Reach One' makes it so much more personal. It's somebody checking in and saying, I care about you, I love you, I want to succeed, talk to me about where you are and where you want to go."
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