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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida's graduation rates up, up, up



Florida’s graduation rate rolled to a record-high 79 percent this year, up nearly 3 percentage points from last year, according to numbers released today by the state Department of Education. The gains were especially strong among black students (up from 64.9 to 68.4 percent) and Hispanic students (up from 72.1 to 75.3 percent.)

“Our reform efforts are making a difference,” Gov. Charlie Crist said in a written statement.

Around Tampa Bay, the news was especially good for Pasco and Hernando. Pasco’s rate rose from 77.8 to 81.9 percent; Hernando’s from 75.4 to 79.0 percent.

Hillsborough’s rate inched up from 82.2 to 82.3 percent. But it continued to outpace the state’s six other big urban districts.

The news was more mixed in Pinellas.

Pinellas’ rate climbed from 77.2 to 77.7 percent, a modest gain after two years of big jumps. But it again fell below the state average and its ranking fell relative to other big districts. Pinellas is behind Hillsborough and Palm Beach counties, in a tie with Broward and ahead of Miami-Dade (at 72.1 percent) and Duval (at 66.6 percent.)

Some education experts say the state’s numbers should be taken with a grain of salt.

Florida’s calculations are at odds with other highly regarded estimates that conclude the state’s rates are much lower. Until last year, Florida was often accused of padding its rates by including some students who earned General Educational Development diplomas, better known as GEDs.

The latest calculations, based on a formula recommended by the National Governors Association, do not include GEDs. But some critics say Florida’s numbers are still woefully off because they do not include thousands of struggling students who transfer into adult-education programs - and often do not graduate.

According to state figures, 14,924 students were put into that category during the 2009-10 school year, including 1,088 students in Pinellas, 2,129 in Hillsborough, 712 in Pasco and 104 in Hernando.

Read more here.

[Last modified: Thursday, November 18, 2010 6:17pm]


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