High School Graduation Rates Hit Record High In South Florida

High School Graduation Rates Are At A High In South Florida

Within four years South Florida public schools are improving as student graduation rates hit a record high.

Last year Palm Beach County school graduated around 82 percent of high school seniors, which is up from 77 percent five years ago. Miami-Dade County had an 80 percent graduation rate, up 4 percent from 76 percent. In Broward County the graduation rate hit almost 79 percent, up from 76 percent.

The push for higher graduation rates comes after the state put an increased focus on graduation and began making it part of the criteria used to determine the school’s letter grades.

Schools are doing a better job at tracking student progress in new ways. Miami-Dade County uses a software that identifies struggling students. The software then places those students in programs that will improve their skills they are struggling in. Officials said the county added an eighth period to 20 low performing high schools as well.

Individual schools such as Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School and South Plantation High saw huge jumps in their rates. Hialeah-Miami Lakes had only 71 percent of students graduate after four years in 2012, but last year the school had almost 90 percent graduate. South Plantation went from 78 percent in 2012 to almost 94 percent last year. Hollywood Hills and Boyd Anderson also experienced dramatic leaps like those.

The chief performance and accountability officer, Valeria Wanza, credited these spikes in rates to the initiatives of pairing struggling students with mentors, eliminating barriers to taking college-preparatory tests and helping students recover credits.

Furthermore some schools such as those in Broward are offering the ACT during the school day for free. In Florida students who fail the 10th grade standardized test can still graduate as long as their ACT or SATs scores are high enough. However, those students struggled to take the ACT and SATs since they were administered on the weekends and cost money.

Alan Strauss, who supervises Broward principals, said those schools are also transferring students to non-tradional schools to catch up on credits before graduation day.