NV high school grad rates rise

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NV high school grad rates rise

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On Saturday, about 500 volunteers for the Washoe County School District will visit 800 students at their homes in an effort to keep them in school and on track to graduate.

High school graduation rates in Nevada rose more than seven percentage points last year.

Clark County was most responsible for the jump to a statewide nearly 71 percent graduation rate. The state's largest district graduated more students and corrected some errors in how it calculated the rates.

Still, that doesn't change the fact that 12 districts across the state saw improvement. State Superintendent Dale Erquiaga says some subgroups saw major gains, including a 10 percent increase for Hispanic students.

"We have to address the achievement gap if we are going to move the overall state number. Nevada is a majority minority state, so more children of color attend our schools than caucasian children. So the achievement gap is unacceptable."

According to some studies, Nevada's per-pupil spending is more than 2,000 dollars below the national average. But Erquiaga says these results show it's how you spend the money that matters most.

"The good news out of this is that the four years for the graduating class of 2013 were the years we experienced the Great Recession and the deep budget cuts, and yet by focusing on the work and gaining efficiencies at the district level we made a 7 point statewide gain."

Among other things, Erquiaga credits early intervention for this year's improvement and says efforts to reduce class sizes, improve services to English language learners and implement all-day kindergarten will yield more gains in the coming years.

In Washoe County, the rate is slightly higher than the state's at about 72 percent. The ultimate goal for the district is 80 percent by 2016.