- Associated Press - Saturday, December 13, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah’s high school graduation rate continued to climb in 2014, with improvement driven in large part by minority students, according to the Utah State Office of Education.

The state’s graduation rate of 83 percent is up 2 percent over last year and 7 percent since 2011.

In 2014, graduation rates increased by 6 percent to 85 percent overall for Asian students, 5 percent to 82 percent for Pacific Islanders and 4 percent to 72 percent for Latino students.

But the graduation rate for black students fell 2 percent to 66 percent, while the rates for American Indian students and low-income students remained flat at 65 percent and 72 percent, respectively.

The graduation rate for white students, who make up roughly three-fourths of Utah’s public school population, increased by 1 percent to 86 percent.

Associate State Superintendent Judy Park said though there is reason to be concerned about the slow graduation growth among black and American Indian students, all of the state’s minority populations have made gains over the past five years.

“I just think it’s an opportunity for people to recognize that things are going in the right direction and things are going well,” she told The Salt Lake Tribune.

Statewide, 20 high schools have graduation rates of 95 percent or higher.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Brad Smith said the increase is commendable, but more work must be done to continue closing the gap.

“The good news is that Utah public schools are graduating more students and more minority students. Most of our achievement gaps are narrowing,” he told the Deseret News. “The bad news is that achievement gaps remain and we need even more students to graduate to create better lives for themselves and a better future for the state.”

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