Florida saw a big boost in graduation rates last school year, according to data released Friday by the state Department of Education.
In 2012, nearly 75 percent of students graduated from high school within four years, a rise of almost 4 percentage points and the biggest single increase since 2003.
The rate follows federal standards and includes only regular high school diplomas. Students who earn a special diploma, a GED-based diploma, a certificate of completion or have been retained and are still in school are not included in the federal graduation rate.
In a statement, Education Commissioner Pam Stewart congratulated teachers, parents and school leaders “for their dedication and hard work.”
“We are committed to making sure students are ready to take the next step and pursue college or a career,” Stewart said.
Black students showed the biggest gains in graduation rates. In 2008, 50 percent of black students statewide graduated in four years; in 2012, the rate was at 63.7 percent. Similarly, Hispanic students improved: nearly 73 percent of Hispanic students graduated in 2012, up from 69 percent in 2011 and about 60 percent in 2008.
South Florida students bested the statewide performance. Both Miami-Dade and Broward saw their rates climb about 5 percentage points to 76 percent. That’s a double-digit increase from just four years ago. In 2008, the graduation rates in Broward and Dade stood at 64 percent and about 61 percent, respectively.
In a statement, Miami-Dade school chief Alberto Carvalho said the rate was “one more measure of success of which our community can be rightfully proud. “The continued focus and determination of our teachers and leaders toward increasing the graduation rate is deeply appreciated,” he added.