Mississippi high school grad rate goes up, dropout rate down (Thinkstock)
Mississippi high school grad rate goes up, dropout rate down

Mississippi reached reached its record rate for high school graduation during the recently completed school year, according to a report released Thursday by the state Department of Education.

School districts showed a four-year graduation rate of 80.8 percent for students earning standard diplomas, up from 78.4 percent for the 2014-2015 school year, the report said.
At this rate of growth, the state could surpass the national rate by next year, said J.P. Beaudoin, the department's director of research and development. The U.S. high school graduation rate hit 82 percent in 2013-14.

Mississippi's graduation rate for students with disabilities also increased significantly to 33.6 percent, up from 27.5 percent the previous school year, the report said.

The drop-out rate dipped for the second consecutive year to 11.8 percent, down from 12.8 percent the previous year, as districts work to encourage students to stay in school, the education department said.

State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright said parents, teachers and administrators should be proud of the state's gains.

"I'm particularly pleased to see the progress of our students with disabilities," Wright said in a news release. "We are not where we should be as a state, but we are increasing the opportunities for students with disabilities to participate in general education classes."

State Board of Education Chairman John Kelly said the board's five-year strategic plan includes a focus on graduation and college and career preparedness. He said the Mississippi Department of Education "has strategically focused its efforts on professional development around higher standards of learning and literacy to build the capacity of our teachers."

DeSoto County School District, the largest in the state with more than 30,000 students, ranked eighth in the graduation rate for students with disabilities. It had the 12th-highest graduation rate and 21st-lowest dropout rate.

The largest urban district, Jackson Public Schools, has nearly 30,000 students. It graduated 22 percent of its students with disabilities, had one of the lowest graduation rates in the state at 67.1 percent and one of the highest dropout rates at 21.3 percent.

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