High school graduation rates on the rise in central Florida



ORLANDO, Fla. - High school graduation rates in Florida have often been one step behind the rest of country, but new numbers indicate that could be changing.

The data show graduation rates are climbing in most central Florida counties, including Brevard, which rose to nearly 90 percent.

Channel 9's Mario Boone talked with district officials about what may have changed to help more students cross the finish line.

"That's really good to hear," said Brevard County resident Benton Landry. "We looked for good schools, and this is why we chose this area."

In fact, 87 percent of Brevard County seniors graduated this year compared to 78 percent in 2009.

"We work very closely with our staff to develop professional development plans that are really geared toward student achievement," said school spokeswoman Michelle Irwin.

Brevard County school leaders said higher graduation rates also extended to minority students.

"Our African-American graduation rate was fifth in the state," said Irwin. "Our Hispanic rate was third in the state."

Even with the recent gains in Brevard, educators told Channel 9 this isn't the time to slow down. In fact, they plan to step up efforts to take graduation rates even higher.

"We're constantly working on new research and implementing research-based initiatives," said Irwin.

"I have an 8-year-old daughter and I'm glad we got her in a good school here," said Landry.

Orange, Seminole and Volusia counties also posted improvements in graduation rates.