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Press Release

Friday, December 04, 2009

Governor’s Press Office
Phone: (850) 488-5394

Florida’s Graduation Rate Hits Highest Point Ever
~ 2008-09 graduation rate surpasses the previous high despite removal of GED recipients ~

TALLAHASSEE – Florida’s graduation rate reached a record level this year by climbing more than three percentage points to 76.3 percent despite the removal of GED recipients from the calculation. The substantial progress experienced this year is largely due to increased graduation rates among Hispanic and African-American students (up 4.5 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively), almost double the 2.3 percent increase experienced by White students since last year.

“Florida’s education system continues to be a rising star in our nation, and our teachers and school leaders should be commended for their extraordinary efforts,” said Governor Charlie Crist. “Our graduation rate is one of many recent measurements showing the progress we are making to ensure every student is capable of academic success.”

Since 2004-05, Florida’s graduation rate has improved 6.6 percentage points. During that same time period, African-American and Hispanic graduation rates increased by 9.3 percentage points, nearly doubling the improvements made by White students.

“These latest results are extremely encouraging and representative of the continuing achievement of Florida’s next generation of leaders,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “While there is still much more work to be done, I am confident that we are quickly moving to the point where reality matches potential in the academic performance of our students.”

In September of 2009, the Florida State Board of Education (SBE) approved the state’s new high school grading formula which incorporates graduation rates into the grading of high schools. The graduation rate approved by SBE uses a formula recommended by the National Governors Association (NGA) which includes standard and special diplomas but excludes all GEDs. The NGA rate replaces Florida’s previous calculation which included all GEDs.

To ensure a more accurate calculation of the graduation rate, Florida employed new, more accurate data collection methods beginning with the 1998-99 school year. Since then, the Department has based its graduation rate on data that follows every single student from ninth grade to graduation. Florida currently stands alone nationally in its practice of compiling and following individual student records to determine a true, four-year graduation rate.

Decreased Dropout Rate

Florida’s dropout rate continued its decline this year to a record low of 2.3 percent. This is a decrease of 0.3 percentage points compared to last year and 0.7 points since 2004-05. Compared to last year, Hispanic and African-American students decreased their dropout rate by 0.6 and 0.2 percentage points, respectively. White students decreased their dropout rate by 0.3 percentage points during the same time period.

For more information about Florida’s 2007-08 graduation and dropout rates, visit http://www.fldoe.org/eias/eiaspubs/word/gradrate0809.doc (Word, 3MB).