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Press Release

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Governor’s Press Office, (850) 488-5394

Florida’s High School Graduation Rate Continues to Climb

~ Increased number of minority graduates push graduation rate to highest point ever ~

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist today announced that Florida’s graduation rate reached its highest point ever last year at 75.4 percent, according to results released today by the Florida Department of Education (DOE). This rate exceeds the previous year’s rate by three percentage points and represents an overall improvement of 15.2 percentage points since the 1998-99 school year. The results indicate that rising numbers of minority graduates continue to play a significant role in the improvement of Florida’s overall graduation rate.

“I am so proud of our schools, teachers, and students for this tremendous achievement,” said Governor Charlie Crist. “By giving our high school students a complete education, we are giving them the foundation they need for a successful future. Their success will make Florida’s workforce and economy stronger.”

“These results reinforce the tremendous academic progress our students have made over the last decade and prove that Florida is home to some of the best teachers in the nation,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “It is vital that we continue to build on our progress by elevating the expectation for our children and preparing them with the skills they need to succeed in today’s global economy.”

Similar to last year, graduation rates for African-American and Hispanic students showed some of the largest growth this year, increasing by 3.8 and 3.1 percentage points, respectively. White students also showed sizeable growth, with a 2.6 point increase in their rate compared to 2006-07.

The DOE bases its graduation rate on data that follows every single student from ninth grade to graduation, a method that more accurately calculates the number of students who graduate high school. Florida currently stands alone nationally in its practice of compiling and following individual student records to determine a true, four-year graduation rate. In October, the United States Department of Education announced that all states must adopt a uniform graduation rate calculation by the year 2010-11. Consequently, the DOE is reviewing its graduation rate to determine what changes are needed to meet the new federal requirement.

Decreased Dropout Rate
As Florida’s graduation rate continues to rise, its dropout rate continues to decline. According to the results, Florida’s annual high school dropout rate dropped to its lowest point ever this year at 2.6 percent. This rate is a decrease of 0.7 percentage points compared to last year’s rate, and a decrease of 2.8 points since 1998-99.

Increased minority achievement was the leading force behind this decline. From 2006-07 to 2007-08, the dropout rate decreased for African-American, Hispanic, American Indian and multiracial students, with African-American students showing the most significant improvements in dropout reduction.

For more information about Florida’s 2007-08 graduation and dropout rates, visit (PDF, 164KB).