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November 30, 2007

Tom Butler
(850) 245-0413

Governor Crist Announces Florida’s High School Graduation Rate on the Rise
~ Decreased dropout rate during past year includes improved minority retention ~

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist and Education Commissioner Jeanine Blomberg today announced that Florida’s graduation rate rose to 72.4 percent in 2006-07, an increase of 1.4 percent compared to last year’s rate (71.0 percent) and an overall increase of 12.2 percent since 1998-99 (60.2 percent). Meanwhile, Florida’s annual high school dropout rate declined from last year, dropping 0.2 percentage points to 3.3 percent, a decrease of 2.1 points since 1998-99.

“Florida has made exceptional progress in helping students realize the value and necessity of a high school education,” said Governor Crist. “This achievement would not be possible without the tireless efforts of Florida’s teachers and school administrators who selflessly devote themselves to ensuring a brighter future for their students.”

This year’s graduation rate is the highest it has been since Florida employed new, more accurate data collection methods during the 1998-99 school year. Graduation rates for African-American and Hispanic students showed the largest growth this year, increasing by 1.8 and 2.3 percent, respectively.

The Florida Department of Education bases its graduation rate on data that follows every single student from ninth grade to graduation yielding a more precise calculation. Florida currently stands alone nationally in its practice of compiling and following individual student records to determine a true, four-year graduation rate. In a 2005 report released by the National Governors Association, Florida is cited as a national leader and model for calculating graduation rates.

“This year’s graduation rate is a clear indication that Florida is on the right track in its education efforts,” said Commissioner Blomberg. “This rate will only increase as we add more rigor and relevance to our high school curriculum and keep our students focused on a lifetime of success.”

The latest annual decline in the state’s dropout rate occurred primarily as a result of continuing improvements by minority students. From 2005-06 to 2006-07, the dropout rate decreased for Hispanic, American Indian and multiracial students, with American Indian students showing the greatest decrease (improvement) in the dropout rate.

National studies of dropout rates, including the one recently conducted by Johns Hopkins University, use a generalized methodology when calculating their findings. This approach only examines the differences between enrollment numbers rather than account for the actual enrollment status of each student. Florida’s calculations for the dropout rate factor in the status of each student. For instance, a student who transfers schools is not considered a dropout.

Florida's Statewide Four-Year Graduation Rates - 1998-99 through 2006-07 (PDF, 432KB)