Saturday, November 20, 2010

Florida records best-ever high-school-graduation rates

Florida posted its highest-ever high school graduation rate this year.

The state graduation rate hit 79 percent in 2010, buoyed by strong improvements among black and Hispanic students, the Florida Department of Education announced today.

That rate includes students who earn regular diplomas and the "special" diplomas earned by teenagers with disabilities, but it excludes GEDs from the calculations.

It does, however, allow schools to calculate their rates after removing students who leave high school to pursue adult education programs — a move that boosts school graduation numbers.

Education Commissioner Eric Smith said earlier this year that the practice meant Florida wasn't "accounting for these kids at all" in its calculations.

The federal government plans to require counting such students – there were more than 17,300 in 2009 – under a new system it is proposing all states follow.

In the meantime, Florida is using the rate devised by the governors association. By that measure, the state's graduation rate has climbed from 68.9 percent in 2006 to 79 percent this year.

The graduation rates for black and Hispanic students lagged in all those years behind those of their white classmates, but the rate for both groups has improved by about 13 percentage points in the past five years.

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