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PK_CHRISTORY 0259.JPGCalifornia's high school graduation rate rose sharply last year with Latino and black students showing gains higher than those of white and Asian students, state schools chief Tom Torlakson announced Tuesday.

Overall, the Department of Education's annual report said, 78.5 percent of those who started high school in the 2008-09 school year had graduated by 2012, up 1.4 percentage points from the previous year.

Latinos, who were nearly half of the Class of 2012, saw their graduation rate jump by 1.8 percentage points to 73.2 percent and black students' graduation rate rose by 2.9 percentage points to 65.7 percent, still the lowest of any major ethnic group.

The graduation rate among white high-schoolers was 86.4 percent, up 0.7 percent, and that of Asians was 91 percent, also up 0.7 percent.

Not surprisingly, as the graduation rate rose, the dropout rate declined, Torlakson said, to 13.2 percent, down 1.56 percentage points. Another 8.3 percent "are neither graduates or dropouts" and most are still enrolled in school, the report said.

Statistics on individual school districts can be found at the Department of Education's DataQuest website.

PHOTO CREDIT: Students wait to line up the first graduation ceremony of Cristo Rey High School at St Ignatius Loyola Church in Sacramento in 2010. The Sacramento Bee/Paul Kitagaki Jr.



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