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Duval, Clay Celebrate Record Graduation Rates; Duval’s Trails State Average

Jessie Jacobson

The graduation rate in Duval County Public Schools hit an all-time high this year, the state announced this week.

This spring, 85.1 percent of the district’s seniors graduated within four years of starting high school — up by more than 4 percentage points over the previous year.

“Jacksonville leaders can now point to our schools district as an asset in attracting jobs and economic development to our region,” Superintendent Diana Greene said in a statement emailed to WJCT News. “Our teachers, our school leaders and — most important — our students have done the work this community has asked them to do.”

State data show Duval is still 1 percentage point short of the state’s average graduation rate.  

Still, in an interview with WJCT, School Board Chairwoman Lori Hershey pointed out Duval is doing well among the nation’s large urban districts. Duval is the 20th largest school district in the country, with more than 128,000 students and more than 190 schools.  

“The national average is 75 percent, and we are 10 points higher than the national average of urban school districts,” she said. “I just believe that this is a very exciting time for Duval County.”

Duval is also closing the achievement gap for African-American students. Five years ago, those students trailed the overall rate by 5.4 percent. Now the difference is just 1.9 percent.

Related: Duval African-American Graduation Rate Highest Among Large Florida School Districts

In fact, the district said all of its historically underrepresented groups saw record high graduation rates for the 2017-2018 school year:    

  • African American students: 83.2 percent graduation rate; up 6.4 points over last year.
  • Hispanic students: 84.3 percent graduation rate; up 3.2 points over last year.
  • English Language Learners: 82.3 percent graduation rate; up 5.4 points over last year.
  • Low socioeconomic students: 79.5 percent graduation rate up; 6 points over last year.
  • Students with disabilities: 77.1 percent graduation rate; up 6.4 points over last year.

“The School Board has placed a tremendous importance in working toward equity in educational outcomes,” said Hershey in a news release. “Hearing the news that our achievement gaps for African-American students, low-income students, and all other sub-groups are closing rapidly really speaks to the quality of work happening in our schools.”
But overall, Duval’s rate remains lower than most of the six other big Florida districts — ahead of only Broward County.

At the same time, neighboring Clay, St. Johns and Nassau counties had some of the highest rates of graduation in the state. All three were above 90 percent.

Gov. Rick Scott announcedthis week that Florida’s high school graduation rate has hit a 15-year high of 86.1 percent.

“This accomplishment would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of Florida’s teachers and school administrators,” he said.


Abukar Adan is a former WJCT reporter who left the station for other pursuits in August 2019.