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US Graduation Rate Hits 80 Percent; Nevada In Last

The Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The nation's public school students reached a milestone 80 percent graduation rate, but Nevada remains at the bottom of the barrel, according to a new report released Monday.

The Building a GradNation report listed Nevada's 2012 graduation rate of 63 percent as last on the list, behind Alaska, Georgia, New Mexico and Oregon.

But next year's survey is expected to look much rosier. Earlier this year, Nevada officials announced the 2013 graduation rate hit 71 percent, driven largely by efforts in Clark County School District — the state's largest — to avoid putting the "dropout" label on students who moved.

Growth in the national graduation rate has been spurred by such factors as a greater awareness of the dropout problem and efforts by districts, states and the federal government to include graduation rates in accountability measures. Among the initiatives are closing "dropout factory" schools.

In addition, schools are taking aggressive action, such as hiring intervention specialists who work with students one on one, to keep teenagers in class, researchers said.

Growth in rates among African-American and Hispanic students helped fuel the gains. Most of the growth has occurred since 2006 after decades of stagnation.

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"At a moment when everything seems so broken and seems so unfixable ... this story tells you something completely different," said John Gomperts, president of America's Promise Alliance, which was founded by former Secretary of State Colin Powell and helped produce the study.

The report, which was also produced by Civic Enterprises, Johns Hopkins University, and the Alliance for Excellent Education, compiled U.S. Department of Education statistics from the 2011-2012 school year, and used a uniform graduation formula across all states.

States previously used a wide variety of ways to calculate high school graduation rates, making comparison difficult.