By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – “On-time high school graduation rates for Philadelphia students has risen from 52 to 65 percent over the past eight years,” is the opening line of a front page article in the Philadelphia Public School Notebook.

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Data from Project U-Turn, a collaborative of the District, the city, advocates and foundations, which has been ramping up and coordinating services to help ensure that potential dropouts stay in school, shows that 2,000 fewer students are dropping out.

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The most rapid progress has been among traditionally at-risk groups – black males, Hispanics, those in foster care and in the juvenile justice system. They are dropping out at all stages of high school and more are finding alternative ways to earn a diploma, with help from the District’s Re-engagement Center and Education Support Center at the Department of Human Services.

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Raising graduation rates has been a major objective of Mayor Nutter’s administration.