Massachusetts high school graduation rates continue to rise

Graduation rates at Massachusetts public high schools increased for the sixth consecutive year, state officials announced this afternoon.

Some 84.7 percent of students who entered high schools in fall 2008 graduated last year, an increase of 4.8 percentage points from six years earlier, according to the newly released data.

State officials said that black and Latino students, who long have been the least likely to graduate, had among the highest increases in graduation rates last year, as well as students who are not yet fluent in speaking English.

“These are outstanding results,’’ Mitchell Chester, the state’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, said in an interview. “In today’s world a high school diploma is now a minimum credential. … In fact, in most living-wage jobs you need to be educated beyond a high school level.’’


But Chester added that he was not completely satisfied with the numbers.

“We have too many students not making it through to securing a high school diploma,’’ he said.

Boston saw its graduation rate rise last year to 65.9 percent — the highest level ever recorded for the city. Rates in Boston have been climbing since 2007.

Like those across the state, black and Latino students as well as English language learners in Boston had some of the biggest jumps in graduation rates.

“We are extremely pleased,’’ said Superintendent Carol R. Johnson, who has made increasing the city’s graduation rate a top priority. “These numbers demonstrate that some of the work we are doing is paying off.’’

State officials also announced that the annual high school dropout rate decreased to 2.5 percent last year, the fourth consecutive year it has been below 3 percent and the lowest rate in decades.

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