Washoe Hopes to Catch National Grad Rate

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RENO, NV - More students than ever before graduated from high school in 2012. A report released Monday shows 80% of high school seniors across the nation made the grade.

But the story is different here in Nevada where grad rates are some of the worst in the ratio at 70%. Washoe county is doing better, but how much better? Back in September we learned that Washoe County grad rates were around 72%. They're improving, but still a lot of work to be done to reach the district's goal of 80% by 2016.

As the nation reaches a milestone for graduation rates, Washoe County School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez is confident we're not too far behind.

"I don't want to throw out too many numbers, but I feel comfortable that we are going to have a higher graduation rate and we are going to have even more children than ever graduating," said Martinez.

2013 was a record year, 72% of Washoe seniors graduated. That's 184 more graduates than the year before. This year, Martinez says even more graduates are expected to walk across the stage.

"Right now we are 200 children ahead of schedule of last year at this time," said Martinez.

It's unclear how much the extra students will improve the graduation rate this year, but it can't hurt. Moving forward, things are looking good for next year. When the class of 2015 enters their senior year in August, they'll be more prepared than their predecessors.

"For the last two years, we have had less than 60% of our children on track to graduate at the beginning of 12th grade and so that is going to change dramatically this year," said Martinez.

That's because the focus on graduation is happening earlier. They are talking about it at the beginning of high school instead of waiting until senior

Martinez said Monday, if he wanted to he could allow everyone to graduate, but that would defeat the purpose. He is focused on a rigorous curriculum that aims at getting students into the best universities in the nation.