JACKSON, MS (AP) - A larger share of Mississippi high schoolers than ever before are graduating.
The state Department of Education announced Thursday that the graduation rate rose to 82.3 percent last year.
That's still below the national average of 83.2 percent, but the share of students earning diplomas within four years has been on the rise in Mississippi since 2015.
The drop-out rate fell to 10.8 percent from 11.8 percent, moving down for the third consecutive year as graduation rates climb.
The trend began after Mississippi changed graduation requirements. Previously, students had to pass four subject-area tests to graduate. The changes created alternate paths to graduation. Also, although students must still take the test and it counts for 25 percent of overall grades in those courses, students can now fail and still graduate.