- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New figures from the U.S. Education Department show New Mexico is among the states to see the most growth in high school graduation rates over a three-year period.

The state’s graduation rate increased from 63 percent during the 2010-11 school year to 70 percent in 2013. Only Alabama and Nevada saw higher growth rates during the period.

Nationally, the graduation rate reached a high of 81.4 percent in 2013.

State education officials said Wednesday that the increase in New Mexico’s graduation rates during the period included advances among Hispanic, American Indian and black students.

The federal figures don’t include the 2013-14 school year. State statistics released Wednesday show graduation rates actually dipped that year to 69.3 percent.

New Mexico Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera said she’s encouraged by the overall progress made in recent years but noted that three out of every 10 students who enroll still don’t graduate from high school.

“We must continue to work together and champion programs and policies that make a difference for our kids,” she said in a statement.

Under the $6.2 billion spending plan approved by the New Mexico Legislature last week, nearly $3 million would go toward continuing programs aimed at encouraging students to finish school. Another $12.5 million would provide direct support to districts for things such as social workers in select middle schools and other truancy and dropout prevention programs.

The budget is now in the hands of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who can cut spending in the package using her line-item veto powers.

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