MANATEE -- Florida's school district graduation rates are improving, and the Manatee School District's rates are above the state average, Florida Department of Education data shows.
Florida's average high school graduation rate increased by 1.1 percentage point over last year, and has increased significantly the past 10 years. The average graduation rate statewide this year is 75.6 percent, rising from 59.2 percent
The Manatee County School District hovers just above the state average, with a graduation rate of 76.8 percent, up from 76.2 percent in 2011-12 and 64.7 percent in 2010-11.
Sarasota County schools showed similar results with a 76.2 percent graduation rate this year.
Each state school district submitted data for 2012-13, which is contained in the report released Wednesday.
Mike McCann, Manatee district supervisor of dropout prevention, said a variety of career academies and readiness programs helped with improvements in Manatee County.
McCann particularly accredited the Learning Is For Everyone program, which allows at-risk students to take courses for credit recovery.
"Even one drop put is way too many for me," McCann said. "We've continued the model of tracking students to meet their needs and take down any roadblock they may have that keeps them from coming to school."
McCann said that high school programs aim to help students see a connection between what they are learning and the "real world."
Despite the district's improvement, there is still a high number of students who are not graduating.
"We will be looking at that," McCann said. "Credit recovery programs have been very successful. Teachers are doing a great job with everything that is going on."
The highest graduation rates in Florida were found in the Nassau County School District. For 2012-13, Nassau's graduation rate was 90.9 percent -- a significant increase from 66.4 percent in 2008-09.
The lowest graduation rates were in the Suwannee County School District, with a 59.5 percent, up from 52.7 percent in 2008-09.
Dropout rates in Florida are on the decline, the report shows.
A dropout is defined as a student who discontinues his or her education in a traditional school without transferring to another school, home education program or adult education.
The statewide dropout rate for 2012-13 is 2 percent, up from 1.9 percent in 2011-12 but down from 2.3 percent in 2008-09.
The Manatee County School District dropout rates have been steadily decreasing.
The dropout rate for 2012-13 is 1.6 percent, down sharply from 3.1 percent in 2010-11 and 4.3 percent in 2009-10.
"The consistent, positive trend in the Manatee district's graduation and dropout rates is great news for our students and community," Superintendent Rick Mills said in a press release. "I want to thank everyone inside and outside of the school district who has worked so hard to achieve these impressive results."
Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.