Metro

Mass. high school graduation rate on the rise

Students at the Newton South High School graduation in 2014.
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
Students at the Newton South High School graduation in 2014.

More than 87 percent of Massachusetts public school students who entered as ninth-graders graduated within four years, the ninth consecutive year of improvement, the state’s education department announced Thursday.

For the first time, more than 70 percent of Hispanic students graduated within four years, and the graduation rate for urban districts crossed the 75 percent mark.

Less than 2 percent of students dropped out last year, the lowest rate in more than 30 years.

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A number of city districts have made substantial gains in reducing dropouts over the past five years. Worcester and Springfield have seen their rates drop by more than half, and Lawrence’s has fallen by 48 percent. Boston’s has fallen by 36 percent.

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“These impressive results reflect the dedication of the Commonwealth’s educators, counselors and administrators,” Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester said.

In Boston, the graduation rate rose 4 percentage points from the previous year to reach an all-time high of 70.7 percent. School Committee chairman Michael O’Neill credited the school district’s renewed focus on early intervention with eighth- and ninth-graders, increased use of technology in the classroom, and broader options for students to take evening, summer, and online educational programs.

Statewide, in the 2014-2015 school year, less than half as many students dropped out (5,346) than in 2006-07 (11,436), when the annual dropout rate was at a high mark of 3.8 percent.

Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.