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Report: Florida’s Hispanic students graduate at greatest rate in country

Florida schools are graduating far more students than they did a decade ago, and the state’s Hispanic students earn diplomas at the greatest clip in the nation, according to a national study released Thursday.

The latest version of Diplomas Count, an annual review of the country’s graduation rates and trends by Education Week magazine, shows that 72.9 percent of Florida’s students graduate high school with a diploma compared to 49.9 percent 10 years earlier. The increase was the second greatest in the nation.

And Florida ranked first when it came to graduating Hispanic students, who in the state earn their diplomas at a 77.1 percent rate compared to 68.1 percent across the country. Black students, too, graduated at a far higher percentage than in the rest of the country, at 70.1 percent in Florida compared to 61.7 percent.

The report, based on 2010 data, also says South Florida schools far outperformed expectations, with 80 percent of Broward’s students graduating, 78 percent of Palm Beach’s and 73 percent in Miami-Dade.

The state’s overall graduation rate, however, continues to lag behind the 74.7 percent by the nation.

The Diplomas Count graduation rate is calculated using a cumulative promotion index formula, which estimates the number of ninth-grade students who will earn a diploma four years later. The calculation is different from graduation rate calculations by the state and federal government.

The results were celebrated Thursday by the Florida Department of Education.

“This by no means indicates that our work is finished,” Education Commissioner Tony Bennett said in a statement. “But it is a clear sign that by working together with a clear focus, we can all help ensure that every student has a chance to succeed in college, in a career and in life.”