Polk County Public Schools is pleased to announce that the school district’s graduation rate rose to 80.4 percent in 2017-18, an annual increase of 5.0 percentage points, according to the latest data from the Florida Department of Education.

“I’m happy that we are graduating more students each year,” said Jacqueline M. Byrd, Superintendent of Polk County Public Schools. “This is a testament to the hard work of our teachers, staff and the students themselves. We are making sure students are taking the right courses, mastering the instruction and moving forward. We are looking at each student and figuring out what they need to succeed.”

The gain in Polk County’s graduation rate (5.0 percentage points) exceeded the statewide increase of 3.8 percentage points.

All Polk County high schools now have graduation rates above 75 percent.

The county’s 14 traditional public high schools have an average graduation rate of 86.5 percent. Four of those schools are above 90 percent: Fort Meade Middle-Senior (98.8), George Jenkins High (97), Lakeland High (93.5) and Mulberry High (90.4).

High schools that showed significant gains include: Fort Meade, up 12.5 percentage points; George Jenkins, 9 percentage points; and Frostproof Middle-Senior, which rose to 87.2 percent for an increase of 8.6 percentage points.

“I’m particularly excited to see the gains made by students in various subgroups like students with disabilities,” Byrd said.

The graduation rate for students with disabilities rose to 65.9 percent, up from 50.3 percent the year before.

The graduation rate for black students increased to 77.5 percent, from 69.6 percent the year prior; the rate for Hispanic students improved to 79.5 percent, versus 75.1 percent the year before.

Florida’s high school graduation rate climbed to 86.1 percent in 2017-18, marking a 15-year high.