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Mass. 4-Year High School Graduation Rates Improve

BOSTON — Fewer Massachusetts teens are dropping out of high school.

The state’s four-year graduation rate has improved for the sixth straight year, with gains among black, Hispanic and high-needs students outpacing other groups.

Gov. Deval Patrick said that while the 84.7 percent four-year graduation rate is welcome, the state has to keep building on the improving numbers.

“I am proud to see more students graduating on time, because now more than ever, having a high school diploma is essential to success in our 21st Century global economy,” Patrick said in a statement. “But until we close the achievement gap, our work is not done, and additional investments in education are critical to ensuring all students have the opportunity to succeed.”

In his latest budget proposal, outlined Wednesday, the governor called for increased investment in education.

Some of the biggest gains came from Hispanic students, whose graduation rate improved nearly 4 percentage points up to 65.5 percent, and students with disabilities, whose graduation rate improved by 3 percentage points up to 68.6 percent.

African-American graduation rates also improved by nearly 3 percentage points, up to 73.4 percent.

The state’s annual dropout rate declined to 2.5 percent in the 2011-2012 school year. That’s the fourth consecutive year below 3 percent.

In Boston, the city reported its highest-ever graduation rate. Officials said 66 percent of last year’s seniors graduated in four years, a 1.5 percentage point increase over the prior year.

For the rate rise, Boston Superintendent Carol Johnson pointed to a new summer graduation option and other initiatives.

“We have offered, I think, more challenging coursework,” Johnson said, “we’ve put in a re-engagement center to make sure more students stay in school and those who may have dropped out can come back.”

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

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