Another increase in state's graduation rate

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.