TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) – More and more Florida high school students are making the grade.
The state's Department of Education released figures Monday which showed that the graduation rate increased to 80 percent in the 2010-11 school year. That number is one percent higher than the previous year, and nearly 10 percent higher than in the 2006-07 school year.
Hispanic students saw the greatest gains, rising two points to 77 percent.
Miami Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced the results Monday afternoon flanked by school board members and principals.
He said Dade County schools saw a 5.6 percent increase from last year. The district is now boasting nearly a 78 percent graduation rate. That is just two percent shy from the states state's rate.
Some of Miami-Dade's most at-risk schools identified by the state saw the highest gains. One of those schools was Miami Norland Senior High School. It went from a 65 percent graduation rate last year to a 82.5 percent rate this year.
"From day one we were monitoring the data, pushing students," said Luis Solano, Norland's principal. "We mentored students just to assure that we got over the hump."
Solano was one of several principals hand picked and given the job last year by the Superintendent.
"I carefully selected these individuals because of their accomplishments in other schools," said Carvalho. They're courage, they're not deterred by politics. The only politics they embrace are the politics of kids."
Carvahlo also revamped the teaching staffs at some of the most at risk schools.
"We involuntarily transferred hundreds of teachers," he said. "We did not renew the contracts of thousands of teachers over the past three years. We have demanded the very best and the very best did their very best for our kids."
Miami-Dade Schools spokesman John Schuster said the state's numbers are reflected locally. He said some of their schools, such as Miami Jackson Senior High (85%), Miami Edison Senor High (74%) and Southwest Miami High (89%) had some of the highest graduation rates in years.
But none of them topped the three perfect scores of 100 percent graduation rates seen by Mast Academy, New World School of the Arts and Young Women's Preparatory Academy.
The graduation rate includes those receiving standard or special diplomas within four years of starting high school. It does not include GED recipients.
About 14 percent of the same group of students were retained or received a certificate of completion, and 5.5 percent were dropouts.
The dropout rate for all high school students was 1.9 percent, down slightly from the previous year.
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