North Carolina's graduation rate is its highest ever, North Carolina Public Schools announced Thursday.
The 2013 four-year cohort graduation rate is 82.5 percent, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction said, up from the 2012 rate of 80.4 percent. In other words, 82.5 percent of students who started the ninth grade in 2009-10 completed high school in four years or less.
Some students take five years to graduate. That rate was 83.1 percent, up from last year's 81.1 percent.
"Raising graduation rates begins in kindergarten and involves educators at every grade level. This is wonderful news for our principals, teachers, counselors and students. Thanks to all of our educators for their hard work and congratulations on this success," State Superintendent June Atkinson said in a statement.
North Carolina's graduation rate was a dismal 68 percent in 2006.
Thursday's numbers thrilled educators at the Durham Public Schools, who have seen steady increase. The system graduated 79.6 percent of students in four years.
"We are proud of 80 percent, but we know we still have 20 percent that are out there that we have to help even more and provide even greater supports to," said Jim Key, area superintendent for high schools.
The state's four-year graduation rate has risen across all lines since 2006:
|Females||From 72.6 to 86.6|
|Males||From 64.0 to 78.6|
|White||From 73.5 to 86.2|
|Black||From 60.4 to 77.5|
|Hispanic||From 52.3 to 75.3|
|Asian||From 75.2 to 89.9|
|American Indian||From 51.1 to 77.3|
|Economically disadvantaged||From 55.6 to 76.1|
The improving graduation rate immediately became a question of whether North Carolina's schools were doing better despite recession-era funding cuts that have forced schools to hire fewer teachers even as enrollments increased.
About 1.5 million students attend the state's public schools.
Here is how some of the area school systems fared on their four-year graduation rate:
|School system||Graduation rate|
|Durham Public Schools||79.6