ATLANTA — Georgia's high school graduation has increased and now stands at 81.6 percent.
The new rate is a one percentage point increase from the class of 2017, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The data was released recently by the Georgia Department of Education.
Georgia's statewide graduation rate has climbed from 69.7 percent in 2012. That was the first year Georgia began using a federal measure to calculate rates.
Georgia schools now have many programs that give high schoolers "more opportunities than ever before" to succeed, State School Superintendent Richard Woods said.
"From career, technical, and agricultural education to dual enrollment to the fine arts, there is an unprecedented emphasis on supporting the whole child and making sure every single student understands the relevance of what they're learning," Woods said in a statement. "I'm confident we'll continue to see these gains as long as we're still expanding opportunities that keep students invested in their education."
In metro Atlanta, five of the six largest school districts also increased their graduation rates over last year.
Fulton County Schools held its graduation rate steady at 86.8 percent, above the graduation rates of Atlanta at 79.9 percent, Clayton County at 71.7 percent, Cobb County at 85.2 percent, DeKalb County at 75 percent and Gwinnett County at 81.7 percent.
Six years ago, Georgia began to use a new calculation to compute graduation rates — a method now required by federal law. The method counts students who earn a diploma within four years of entering high school. It also requires districts to track students who transfer out of their system, The Journal-Constitution reported.
Georgia's graduation rate fell drastically when the new calculation was first implemented, but has steadily climbed since 2012.
Seventy-four Georgia school districts recorded 2018 graduation rates at or above 90 percent, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.
Georgia's 80.6 percent graduation rate for the 2016-2017 school year trailed behind Tennessee's 89.1 percent and Alabama's 90.3 percent, the Chattanooga newspaper reported.