High school graduation rates up from past years

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP)– Graduation day is just weeks away for many. 22News looks at what high schools have done to improve graduation rates across the nation and right here in Massachusetts.

Before seniors get the chance to exit their high schools’ doors for the very last time, they had to get the grades to earn their diploma.

“A lot of studying and focusing and staying on the right lane,” Lymarie Colon, a senior at Chicopee High School says recalling her road to graduation.

Now, new research from the Education Department says 4 out of 5, or 80 percent, of high school students across the country graduated in 2012.

Massachusetts ranked among the top in the nation, with 85 percent of high school students making it all the way to graduation day in 2012.

Chicopee High School guidance counselor Jonathan Baru told 22News the improvement is likely a result of schools better identifying which students are high risk for dropping out. He says those students are often dealing with things like a low income, or violence or drug use in the home which can keep them from coming to school.

“When you’re not in school you can’t learn. So, attendance is a huge, huge risk factor and probably, if I had to name the number one risk factor for dropping out, it would be attendance,” Baru said.

Baru also told 22News teen pregnancy is another common challenge.

Idialit Perez told 22News a solid support system and weekly meetings with her school counselor helped get her to graduation after her she had her son last year. “As a teenage mom it was really hard to even keep coming to school, stay focused and have a positive mind set to just keep coming to school,” Perez said.

Researchers expect graduation rates nationally to reach 90 percent by 2020.

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