Graduation Rates Rise

TAMPA -

Fewer Florida teenagers dropped out of high school last year compared to a decade ago according to new state statistics. Locally, Sarasota has the highest graduation rate at 83.5 percent this year, Hillsborough County is next with 79.1 percent and Pinellas the lowest rate of 64.5 percent.

Statistics released by the Florida Department of Education show a 12-percent overall increase in the state's high school graduation rate between 1999 and 2007.

Yet, during a visit to Tampa's Shriners Hospital, Governor Charlie Crist said, 'It's never good enough. We've always have to strive to do better and that's this administration's philosophy.'

State officials say the new 72.4 percent statewide graduation rate is more accurate than recent national studies that had much lower rates. They say that's because Florida's numbers are compiled from individual student records while the others use generalized methodology to calculate dropout rates.

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