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De Blasio Touts Highest High School Graduation Rate In City History

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- New York state's high school graduation rate continued its slow climb in 2016, when 79.4 percent of students earned a diploma after four years.

The graduation rate released Friday by the state Department of Education is 1.3 percent higher than the 78.1 percent for the class of 2015. State officials said  black and Hispanic students and students in the bigger cities were among those making gains.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City's graduation rate went up by 2.1 points.

"The graduation rate achieved by our students last year is the highest in the history of New York City -- 72.6 percent," de Blasio said. "Graduation rate has gone up in every borough and for every demographic so this is now a citywide progress. This is something that's happening everywhere because we are supporting our students in every borough and every demographic."

De Blasio hopes that by 2026, 80 percent of students will graduate high school on time.

"We set a goal of getting this city to a level that would've been unthinkable in the past," de Blasio said. "We are making progress, we are ahead of schedule, we want to get there even sooner if we can."

De Blasio also said the dropout rate fell to the lowest ever – 8.5 percent.

"Our record-high graduation and the record-low dropout rates are a testament to the hard work of our students, their families, and our educators," said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. "Our focus has always been on the work going on in every classroom, and that's where it's going to stay. While this is a day to celebrate progress, we're working harder than ever to improve instruction and provide equity and excellence for all students."

Syracuse posted a 6.4 percent increase, to 61 percent, while the other so-called Big Five school districts of Buffalo, Rochester and Yonkers had graduation rates of 61.7 percent, 47.5 percent and 77.5 percent, respectively.

New York state has 2.6 million students in public schools.

State data shows that more than half are considered economically disadvantaged.

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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