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Study: W.Va. high school graduation rate improves

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- About 78 percent of the 17,651 West Virginia high school students who graduated in the spring of 2010 earned their diplomas in four years, matching the national rate, the U.S. Department of Education said in a study released Tuesday.

West Virginia's rate improved from 77 percent during the two previous school years.

About 78 percent of white students graduated on time, while the rates for black and Hispanic students were lower. About 74.5 percent of Hispanic students and about 74 percent of black students earned their diplomas in four years. The rate for Asian and Pacific Islander students was 100 percent.

The state's dropout rate remained at about 4 percent and was higher than the national rate of about 3 percent. The national rate declined from 4 percent during the seven previous academic years, when date was sometimes incomplete or represented averages of states that reported figures.

About 4.6 percent of black and Hispanic students in West Virginia dropped out during the 2009-2010 school year, compared to 4 percent of white students. Less than 1 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander students dropped out.

Male students were more likely to drop out than female students. The dropout rate for male students was 4.4 percent, compared to 3.6 percent for female students.

Overall, students were least likely to drop out during their freshman year. West Virginia's freshman dropout rate was 3.4 percent, compared to 4.1 percent of sophomores, 4.4 percent of juniors and 4.6 percent of seniors.

Nationally, students were more likely to drop out of high school during their senior year, with roughly one in 20 quitting before graduation day.