Florida’s high school graduation rate continues to rise ever so slightly, but it still remains well below the national rate.
According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Education, Florida’s graduation rate during the 2013-2014 academic year was 76 percent, nearly six percent lower than the national average of 82 percent.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the report was good news for the nation’s education system.
“America’s students have achieved another record milestone by improving graduation rates for a fourth year,” said Duncan in a statement. “The hard work of teachers, administrators, students and their families has made these gains possible and as a result many more students will have a better chance of going to college, getting a good job, owning their own home, and supporting a family.”
The national graduation rate was the highest ever for Florida’s class of 2014, up slightly from a little above 75 percent in 2013, but Florida’s students still trailed behind the national averages in every category.
Asian/Pacific Islanders had the highest graduation rates in Florida, with almost all -- 89 percent -- of students in that demographic graduating in 2014. White students had the second highest graduation rate at almost 82 percent, followed by Hispanics, American Indians and Blacks.
Seven states fared worse than Florida did in the report, as opposed to eight last year. Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Nevada and Oregon and the District of Columbia had graduation rates below Florida's for the 2013-2014 school year.
Despite Florida sitting below the national graduation rate, the state has seen steady improvements since 1999, when the state’s graduation rate sat at the bottom of the barrel at 52 percent. For several years, Florida has consistently seen improvements in its graduation rate, becoming the “Cinderella Story” in national education.
The graduation rate has increased in part due to an overhaul of the state’s education system implemented by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
When Bush was governor, he spearheaded widespread education reforms, modernizing a suffering education system by focusing on holding schools accountable and raising education standards.
Schools began receiving A-F grades based on standardized test scores, a system which many other states began to implement shortly thereafter.
Florida’s Hispanic graduation rate has been a specific point of pride for the state, with Hispanics’ graduation rates soaring in recent years.
While the new report is a boost to the nation’s education system in terms of graduation rates, it still follows a recent report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress earlier this year, which found the country’s math and reading scores had fallen for the first time in a decade. Florida’s mathematics scores followed the same trend for 8th grade mathematics scores.