JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Duval County's graduation rate rose 4.6 percentage points to 71.2 percent, Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson announced Monday.

Meanwhile, Duval County's high school dropout rate was 2.3 percent.

"The gains in our graduation rate are proof that Duval County Public Schools is on its way to becoming the best large urban district in the country," Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals said in a news release. "This is especially noteworthy given that DCPS has the highest graduation requirements in the state."

Duval County's graduation rate is an increase of 13.8 percentage points over the last five years.

The schools with the largest increase in graduation rates are Forrest High School, which saw an increase of 18.7 percentage points from the prior year, Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology, which saw an increase of 11.2 percentage points, and Ed White High School, which saw an increase of 10.9 percentage points. Additionally, Stanton College Preparatory School was recognized for having 99 percent of its students graduate in 2011.

Florida's graduation rate has risen to its highest level ever, continuing a six-year upward trend despite a challenging budget year. According to results released Monday from the Florida Department of Education, Hispanic and African-American students continue to graduate at higher levels, with Hispanic students increasing graduation rates 13 percentage points since 2006-07, and African-American students increasing 11.5 percentage points during the same time frame.

Overall, the Sunshine State's graduation rate rose more than 1 full percentage point to 80.1 percent, up from 79.0 percent last year and up nearly 10 percentage points since 2006-07.

Following the upward progress in graduation rates, Florida's dropout rate also declined for the sixth straight year to 1.9 percent. This is the first time the state's dropout rate has fallen below 2 percent, and the rate represents a decline of 0.1 percentage points from last year and a decrease of 1.7 percent since 2006-07.

The graduation rate being used in the new grading formula is the National Governor's Association rate. In September 2009, the state Board of Education approved the state's new high school grading formula that incorporates graduation rates into the grading of high schools. The decision to use this rate was made because the federal government is moving all states to adopt a uniform calculation method that includes standard diplomas and excludes GEDs and special diplomas.

Florida calculates a cohort graduation rate. A cohort is defined as a group of students on the same schedule to graduate. The graduation rate measures the percentage of students who graduate within four years of their first enrollment in ninth grade.

Florida's dropout rate is calculated by the percentage of ninth- through 12th-grade dropouts compared to the ninth- through 12th-grade total, year-long student membership. Because the graduation rate is based on a four-year cohort of students and the dropout rate is based on a single year, the two cannot be compared or combined.

To view the state and district graduation and dropout rates, visit http://www.fldoe.org/eias/eiaspubs/pubstudent.asp.