The School District of Manatee County announced Wednesday that the graduation rate for the 2016-17 school year was 81.1 percent, just 1.2 percent shy of the state's overall graduation rate.
The graduation rate for Tampa Bay schools reach above 80 percent for the first time in recent history.
The increased rate also puts the district above the statewide graduation rate of 82 percent.
The Manatee County School District's graduation rate dipped a year ago but remains substantially higher than it had been in the previous decade. Pinellas' 11 percentage point increase is the largest among those districts.
Florida's overall graduation rate increased 1.6 percentage points to a new high of 82.3 percent.
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Sarasota schools increased.3 percentage points to 85.7 while Polk schools rose to 75.4, an increase of 3.6 percentage points. "Excelling in high school opens doors to opportunities that provide students long-term benefits, and Florida's steady increase is promising for our state's and students' futures".
The graduation rate is used in Florida's school accountability system to calculate school grades. The most recently comparable data on the federal level, from the 2015-16 school year, showed a national average of 84.1 percent. 36 states were ahead of Florida's 80.7 percent number that year.
Some 85 percent of Palm Beach County's high school seniors - attending district-run and charter schools - graduated.
"I look forward to working with the Legislature during the upcoming session to make sure our students have the resources they need to continue to build on this accomplishment for years to come", he said. In 2016, the previous year for which state-by-state comparisons are available, the average graduation rate nationwide was above 84 percent, and 36 states had better rates than Florida.