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Trump now says he misspoke as he stood side by side with Putin. Also on the Wednesday rundown: a Senate committee looks to weaken the Endangered Species Act; and public input is being sought on Great Lakes restoration.

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Florida Sees Marked Increase in High School Graduation Rates

PHOTO: Florida is in the top 10 when it comes to states with an increase in high school graduation rates, according to a recent report by Civic Enterprises and the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University. Photo credit: Ricky Ochs/Morguefile.
PHOTO: Florida is in the top 10 when it comes to states with an increase in high school graduation rates, according to a recent report by Civic Enterprises and the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University. Photo credit: Ricky Ochs/Morguefile.
May 26, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - High school graduation rates are up in Florida by almost five percent from 2011 to 2013, according to the 2015 Building a Grad Nation report.

While the new numbers put Florida in the top 10 in an increase of high school graduates, the state's 75.6 percent graduation rate is still below the national average of 81 percent.

John Bridgeland, CEO of Civic Enterprises and co-author of the Building a Grad Nation report, says there are clear advantages to earning a high school diploma.

"Students who drop out of high school are disproportionately more likely to be unemployed," says Bridgeland. "They are more likely to be in prison, more likely to be on welfare, have higher healthcare costs and, sadly, more likely to go on to have children who also end up dropping out of high school."

According to the report, for the third year in a row the U.S. remains on pace to achieve a national goal of 90 percent on-time high school graduation by 2020.

To increase the number of students graduating, the report recommends expanding the use of early-warning systems that can indicate a child needs intervention, and more equitable state funding so low-income and affluent students have the same opportunities.

According to the report, graduation rates increased nationally among low-income students over the past three years, but remain lower than graduation rates for middle and upper class students. Report co-author Robert Balfanz, co-director of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, says poverty is taxing on a student's success, making it more difficult to attend and focus.

"They really need mentors and tutors and folks that can help nag and nurture," says Balfanz. "To make sure if they're not in school to call them to figure out 'can we get you to school by 10 o'clock? What's the issue and how can we solve it?'"

While an increasing number of students with disabilities are completing high school, the report found students with disabilities in Florida graduate at a rate of only 52 percent.

Stephanie Carson/Tommy Hough, Public News Service - FL