DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - The First State is first in the nation on improving graduation rates for high school students.
Delaware's graduation rate was 87 percent last year. That's up from 80 percent in 2013.
Education leaders are pointing to things like credit recovery programs, ninth grade academies and targeted interventions as the reason.
A big part of the statewide jump in graduation rates is an increase in the Capital School District. The district's rate went up 6 percentage points between 2013 and 2014.
Superintendent Daniel Shelton said various programs help kids near the edge of graduating or not stay on track.
"I think some of the successes that we've seen were mostly stemming from that tracking - making sure we were tracking our students, making sure we knew who was on track and who was not on track," he said.
The state Department of Education points to an influx of money into the state education system through the federal Race to the Top program.
"This came out of an investment - $60 million of federal money five years ago - that our districts were able to use to create new programs, including summer academies, ninth grade academies for students," said Michael Watson, chief academic officer for DOE. "So, while we've raised expectations for our students, we're also seeing results."
But Race to the Top is over. And there have been concerns across Delaware if programs funded through it would stay around and if taxpayers would end up footing that new bill.
Shelton says his district is keeping what has worked.
"Some of the stuff that we used with the Race to the Top money, we've be able to - things that we found that worked, we've been able to incorporate into our district budget and eliminate things that weren't working so well."
Across the country, 36 states saw graduation rates go up. Some increases were small.
Both Maryland and Virginia also saw increases in their graduation rates. In Maryland the graduation rate was just over 86 percent. That's an increase of just over 1 percent. And in Virginia there was a graduation rate of just over 85 percent - an increase of just under one percent.
Six states actually saw decreases.