Duval County's graduation rate is up
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The Florida Department of Education has released new data on the 2013-2014 graduation rate and high school grades, and the news is good for Duval schools.
Duval County's graduation rate rose to 74 percent, an improvement of nearly two percentage points over last year.
That means Duval County's graduation rate increased nearly four times faster than the state-wide improvement of 0.5 percentage points.
That means the gap between Duval County's graduation rate and the state average is steadily closing - now just 2.1 percentage points lower.
Among Duval County high schools, Westside, Sandalwood, Andrew Jackson and A. Philip Randolph high schools had the highest graduation rate increases in Duval County. Sandalwood also increased its school grade from a B to an A.
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Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti reported that DCPS demonstrated the greatest improvement among Florida's Big 7 districts over the past two years in graduation rates.
"The work occurring at our high schools is one of our best examples of what transformation looks like, where the district office and schools work in unison with a shared vision of tireless intervention and acceleration," Vitti said in a press release from the district. "Our district is quickly becoming a model of high school reform by offering all of our students an opportunity to graduate on-time with the skills and experiences to succeed in college, the workforce, and life. Even if one has questioned the fast pace of reform over the last two years, these results undeniably speak to what our students can do when the right systems and opportunities are in place for students."
Duval's graduation rate among African-American students continues to show significant increases and now ranks second among the state's largest seven districts, the district reported.
Said Trey Csar, President of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund: "Today's news about the increased graduation rate in Duval County is incredibly exciting, with the rate of improvement nearly quadruple the state-wide average. Just five years ago, Duval's graduation rate was the lowest of the state's 7 urban districts. Now, at 74 percent, the district is within striking distance of the state average, and continues to make tremendous strides, especially in increasing the graduation rate for African-American students. On behalf of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund Board of Directors, I comment Superintendent Vitti, the Duval County School Board, district administrators, teachers and students for this achievement."
Duval also posted higher college readiness rates, as well as participation and performance in accelerated coursework. In reading college readiness 83 percent of students were ready and 63 percent were ready in mathematics, both increasing 3 percentage points. The district showed an increase in accelerated course participation (84 percent, an increase of 3 percentage points) and performance (74 percent, an increase of 13 percentage points). That's the percentage of participants in accelerated curricula eligible to earn college credit.
In addition, despite an increase in the number of F high schools throughout the state, Duval County did not have any F high schools.
The graduation rate measures the percentage of students who graduate within four years of their first enrollment in ninth grade. The rate is calculated for an adjusted cohort of students - a group of students on the same schedule to graduate - taking into account those who enter or exit the group.
Florida's graduation rate only considers standard diploma recipients as graduates in the calculation. Students who earn a special diploma, a GED-based diploma, a certificate of completion, or have been retained and are still in school after four years are counted as non-completers in the calculation. Florida's graduation rate has risen by 5.5 percentage points since 2010-11 and 16.9 percentage points since 2003-04.
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-- Deirdre Conner