The percentage of Colorado high school students who graduated on-time rose to 77.3 percent in 2014, a nearly 5 percentage-point increase since 2010, the Colorado Department of Education reported Thursday.

The graduation rate for 2013 was 76.9 percent.

The high school completion rate was 79.5 percent for 2014. The graduation rate includes students who got their diplomas within four years of entering high school from the 8th grade. The completion rate includes students who received GEDs or “non-diploma” completion certificates.

The department also reported the state’s dropout rate was 2.4 percent in 2014, a small dip from 2013’s 2.5 percent. That represents 118 fewer dropouts. The dropout rate was heavily influenced by students who left alternative high schools. Their dropout rate was 10 times that of non-alternative students — 16.7 percent compared to 1.6 percent.

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“There is cause for optimism in these steadily improving results,” said Rebecca Holmes, associate commissioner for innovation, choice and engagement. “Many districts are doing remarkable work to move more and more students toward readiness for the day after high school graduation, even if that means giving them more than four years to get there. However, in our state as a whole the gaps based on race, ethnicity and income level are still concerning.”

The 2014 graduation statistics show gaps among different groups of students, gaps similar to those seen on test scores and other education statistics.

Here are the on-time graduation rates by gender and ethnic group:

  • Female – 81 percent
  • Male – 73.7 percent
  • American Indian – 60.7 percent
  • Asian – 84.7 percent
  • Black – 69 percent
  • Hispanic – 66.7 percent
  • White – 83.2 percent
  • Two or more races – 79.7 percent

There also were lower graduation rates for groups of students with a variety of academic challenges:

  • Students with disabilities – 54.6 percent
  • Limited English proficiency – 58.7 percent
  • Free/reduced-price lunch eligible – 64.2 percent
  • Title I students – 52.4 percent
  • Gifted/Talented – 92.2 percent

Graduation rates among school districts also vary widely, usually based on the ethnic and socio-economic compositions of their student bodies. In a few cases district rates fluctuate significantly from year to year. For instance, the Falcon district’s rate dropped from 89.8 percent in 2013 to 64.5 percent last year. The district added a new school for 2014 – the online Goal Academy whose 756 students had only a 31.5 percent graduation rate, helping to drop the district’s average.

Of the state’s districts and local education agencies, 126, or 71 percent, had graduation rates of 80 percent or higher, a key state benchmark.

Here’s a look at graduation rates for some key districts. The 2013 rate is listed in parenthesis.

The 15 largest districts

  • Adams 12-Five Star – 73.9 percent (73.7 percent)
  • Academy – 89.8 percent (91.3 percent)
  • Aurora – 55.9 percent (52.6 percent)
  • Boulder – 91.8 percent (90.9 percent)
  • Cherry Creek – 86.6 percent (87.3 percent)
  • Colorado Springs 11 – 68.2 percent (66 percent)
  • Denver – 62.8 percent (61.2 percent)
  • Douglas – 88.9 percent (88.7 percent)
  • Falcon – 64.5 percent (89.8 percent)
  • Greeley – 77.8 percent (79.9 percent)
  • Jefferson – 82.9 percent (81.4 percent)
  • Mesa 51 – 77.2 percent (77.5 percent)
  • Poudre – 81.7 percent (84 percent)
  • Pueblo 60 – 71.9 percent (70 percent)
  • St. Vrain – 83 percent (82.9 percent)

Other districts of interest

  • Adams 14 – 65.9 percent (59.3 percent)
  • Brighton – 79.8 percent (79.2 percent)
  • Englewood – 49.6 percent (55 percent)
  • Littleton – 90.7 percent (92.1 percent)
  • Mapleton – 52.2 percent (47.8 percent)
  • Sheridan – 60.2 percent (40.1 percent)
  • Thompson – 74.5 percent (77.6 percent)
  • Westminster – 57.1 percent (63.9 percent)