Alabama's graduation rate increases to 86 percent

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's high school graduation rate increased to 86 percent for the class of 2014.

State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice said Thursday that figure is up from 80 percent the prior year, and it puts the state ahead of schedule in meeting its goal of having a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020.

Bice said the increase of 6 percentage points means about 3,600 more students graduated than in the prior year. He attributed it to schools using new, innovative ways to help students learn and having more flexibility in how they do that.

Alabama's graduation rate was 72 percent in 2011 and improved to 75 percent in 2012.

A recent report commissioned by the Montgomery-based Business Education Alliance said reaching a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020 would have an economic impact of $430 million greater than if the graduation rate remained at the 2013 level of 80 percent.

"To be a successful worker, you have to graduate high school," Bice said.

Bice announced the results at an event in Montgomery where business and education officials joined the governor to discuss efforts by Alabama's schools and colleges to improve the nontechnical skills of worker, including their work ethic, self-control, communications skills and time management.

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