CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - District officials say the number of African American graduates has gone up nearly 10% over the past five years.
With more than 43,000 students, Charleston County is the second largest school district in the state.
Wednesday Dr. Nancy McGinley, the district superintendent said the goal is to bring every student up to their highest level of achievement.
"The high school diploma is the first ticket that a student must punch to get into the military, to get into higher ed, to get into jobs where they will have a quality of life income," said Dr. McGinley.
While the overall graduation rate is up in Charleston County, the improvement made by African Americans caught the attention of Dr. McGinley.
"More significantly, we are looking at a very serious increase for African American students," said Dr. McGinley.
Closing the gap in achievement of children of different races and backgrounds has been one of the district's top goals.
Dr. McGinley said, "Graduation rate increased 4.1% for Caucasian students. It increased 9.3% for African American students over the last five years."
District estimates show 85.5% of Caucasian students graduated last year compared to 74.1% of African Americans.
Dr. McGinley says for the first time in many years, the gap is beginning to narrow.
"Five years ago the gap between Caucasian and African American students was nearly 17 percentage points. This year we got it down to 11 points," said Dr. McGinley.
The school district says all of the improvement is because of all of the hard work being done within the walls of every school.
Dr. McGinley says high school principals have raised the standards expected from students while finding the best way to help them succeed.
"They have done something called double dosing where if a student needs more time in Algebra 1 or English 1; they break it into two semesters," said McGinley.
Looking ahead, Dr. McGinley says the district will continue their goal of improvement.
McGinley said, "We will continue to do whatever it takes to get high school diplomas in the hands of all of our children."
The graduation percentages in this story were estimates from the school district. The scores provided by the state were a couple of points lower for overall graduation rates of each demographic.
District officials say sometimes the state factors its totals differently.
The school district will be making appeals concerning some of the differences in state scores.