More Md. High School Students Getting Diplomas In 4 Years

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — High school graduation rates are on the rise in Maryland.

Christie Ileto explains why state educators say they still have a long way to go.

The graduation rate is almost at 84 percent, but that means there is still a good portion of students dropping out. State educators say that’s one student too many.

More of Maryland’s high school students are getting diplomas in four years. New numbers Friday show the state’s graduation rate for the class of 2012 rose to just over 83 percent–an increase of 1.5 percent in two years.

“More and more of our teachers, our principals are really paying attention to individual students and making sure students complete high school on time,” said Dr. Henry Johnson, Assistant State Superintendent.

State educators say closing achievement gaps play a big part. Maryland parents are comforted by the numbers.

“It’s really reassuring. It’s one of the reasons we stayed in the state,” said Maria Cain, parent.

High school seniors are encouraged.

“That’s good that many people are not dropping out and graduating and going to college,” said student Felicia Bongo.

State educators say many students graduate high school by passing the state assessment, which focuses on English, math and biology. Others pass by completing an academic bridge project that’s just as rigorous.

“I think the bridge project does help some of our students, who traditionally would become very frustrated and give up,” Johnson said.

While the graduation rate might be up, state educators say there’s still room for improvement.

“Yes, 86 percent in five years — 84 percent in four — is very good. But we recognize that we really need to start focusing on individual students now. When it comes to graduation, you have to look at one student at a time,” said Johnson.

As for this year’s seniors, state educators hope to dish out diplomas to more of Maryland’s students.

Data for the class of 2013 won’t be available until next year.

Prince George’s County saw a 3.3 percent decrease in its graduation rate between 2010 and 2012.

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