New data from the Florida Department of Education is showing graduation rates are rapidly improving across the state, and it appears South Florida is leading the way when it comes to picking up those diplomas.
Graduation rates have steadily gone up at Miami Northwestern Senior High School to 82.5 percent, significantly higher than the average for the State of Florida.
"We have some students at Miami Northwestern right now that have made a decision: 'I'm gonna be the first to get my high school diploma for my family and I'm gonna be the first to go to college or a university,'" Northwestern Principal Wallace Aristide explained.
Northwestern's graduation rate climbed way up from just 56 percent eight years ago.
Overall, Miami-Dade Schools grad rate reached an all-time high in the last school year to 78.1 percent, topping the state's average of 77.8 percent, and putting it in first place among the largest school districts.
"Over the past seven years we increased graduation rates by 18 percent. That is pretty stunning," said Alberto Carvalho, MDCPS Superintendent.
"We're pretty proud of the trajectory we're on at Broward Schools," said Robert Runcie, Broward Superintendent.
Broward's graduation rate went up 2.4 percentage points to 76.6 percent, the highest it's ever been. Boyd Anderson High improved by 12 percent, and Coconut Creek High went up by an incredible 19 percent.
"We put together a number of intervention and support strategies for those students and it absolutely paid off in terms of insuring more students met graduation requirements," Runcie said.
Miami-Dade used a similar full-court press approach: tracking and monitoring students and stepping in when necessary. The success comes at a time when demands on students have never been greater.
"It is not getting easier, it's only getting harder to graduate from any high school in the State of Florida and across our nation," said Marie Izquierdo, Chief Academic Officer of MDCPS.
It was clear the superintendents are pleased about the success, but it was equally clear they will continue their efforts until the graduation rates approach 100 percent.