Last Modified: Thursday, April 11, 2013 4:48 PM
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The percentage of Louisiana public high school students who graduate in four years edged up again in 2012, reaching 72.3 percent, state officials said.
The record high rate was announced Thursday by Gov. Bobby Jindal during an appearance in Geismar at Dutchtown High School, where, officials said, the graduation rate jumped by 4.5 percentage points to 94 percent for 2012.
The state's rate has been climbing since the mid-1990s, although the rate of increase changes from year to year. The 2012 rate was up less than a percentage point from the 2011 rate of 71.4 percent. The 2011 rate was a more than 4 percentage point jump from the 67.2 percent in 2010.
Tensas Parish showed the highest increase in figures released by the state — a more than 16 point jump from 58.1 percent to 74.5 percent. Catahoula Parish, with a 10.5 percentage point increase to 69.4 percent, had the second largest, followed by the Recovery School District, which takes over failing schools from local districts. Its 55.4 percent rate was a 10.1 percent improvement.
Jindal noted in a news release that state rates have improved by 10 percentage points in the last 10 years. He touted policies his administration implemented during the four-year period when last year's graduates were in school. Those include the assignment of letter grades to schools so parents and the public can better measure school performance, an overhaul of what the administration termed ineffective dropout prevention programs, and more rigorous college preparatory programs.
An analysis by Education Week in 2009 noted that the graduation rate was 54 percent in 1996. Then-Gov. Mike Foster pushed major changes in education in the '90s, including a school accountability program that has been refined over the years under former Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Jindal.