State’s grad rates improve

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The Associated Press

New Mexico’s high school graduation rate improved during the last school year, but the state remains near the bottom in national rankings when compared with rates from other states.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the state’s rate rose from 63 percent in 2011 to 70 percent last year.

Only the District of Columbia, Nevada and Oregon have graduation rates lower than New Mexico’s. And like New Mexico, Alaska and Georgia also have 70 percent graduation rates.

Leighann Lenti, the New Mexico Public Education Department’s deputy secretary for policy and programs, says Hispanic, Native American and students with disabilities showed more improvement than the overall student population.

Based on that, she said she expects even more improvement in the future.

Larry Behrens, a spokesman for the Public Education Department, said the department is now calculating the 2013 graduation rate.

The preliminary federal data for 2011-12 were posted on the U.S. Department of Education’s website last week. The department will release a final report early next year. The graduation rate measures the percentage of students who completed high school in four years and earned a regular diploma.

Early this year, New Mexico officials celebrated the newly achieved 70 percent graduation rate, an all-time high.

The data show that 16 states reported graduation rates at or above 85 percent. Iowa, at 89 percent, came out on top.