New data from the State Department of Education show high school graduation rates continuing to improve in Connecticut.
Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said the state is also beginning to close the graduation gap.
"For the black-white graduation rate gap," Pryor said, "since 2010, we've closed the gap by 4.3 points, which represents over a 21 percent reduction in the gap."
Pryor said that by focusing on high-needs districts, graduation gaps have also begun to narrow between white students and their Hispanic peers, as well as between higher and lower income students. Officials stress a disparity still remains, but things are moving in the right direction.
Shanesha Jones, a senior at High School, Inc. in Hartford, spoke to reporters Wednesday. She credited a physics teacher at the school with taking the time to reach out, and talk to her. Jones recalled that the teacher said to her, "Shanesha, you have the potential to run this class. So why do you choose to be so quiet, instead of taking the initiative to be the leader, and help your classmates?"
"I could not answer her," Jones said, "but from that moment on, I helped with whatever I can." Jones will attend Clark Atlanta University in the fall.
Wednesday’s announcement on graduation rates follows last week’s news that Connecticut high school seniors lead the nation in reading.