State graduation rate hits record high of 87.2 percent

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HARTFORD — Governor Dannel P. Malloy got a lesson Monday on all East Hartford High School has to offer.

School leaders led him through a tour of the hallways and classrooms.

East Hartford has had its struggles but new numbers out of the Department of Education shows teachers and administrators are making a difference.

East Hartford High's graduation rate in 2015 rose 14.5 percent from 2011, reaching 94.6 percent.

That upward trend was seen across the school district despite the state labeling it one of the ten lowest performing in the state.

"We're part of a school system that's moving forward,” East Hartford’s Superintendent, Nathan Quesnel said Monday, “despite any challenges we see in front of us, we see solutions."

The ten struggling regions are labeled Educational Reform Districts.

They saw an 8-point increase over the last five years, the average graduation rate now at 71.6 percent.

Malloy said this shows Connecticut is chipping away at a large achievement gap.

"Most of the time that I've been involved in governmental activities we tended to tolerate wider and wider achievement gap,” said Malloy, “once we decided we weren't going to tolerate that anymore we began almost instantly closing it."

The statewide high school graduation rate also showed improvements, now sitting at 87.2 percent, above the national average of 82.3 percent.

Still, leaders here say there is more work to be done.

"We want every student to be as lucky as the students here in East Hartford High School,” said Dianna Wentzell, Connecticut’s Education Commissioner.

Malloy said the rising graduation rate is a testament to the hard work of teachers, principals, superintendents and parents.

Officials say increased graduation rates for black and Hispanic students have outpaced the average statewide graduation rate.

The data from 2015 shows that the graduation rate for black students reached 78.1 percent, up 6.9 points since 2011, and 74.8 percent for Hispanic students, up 10.6 points since 2011.