Although Maryland officials are touting a growing graduation rate, Prince George's County parents and teachers are concerned numbers in the county are falling.
The state saw an 83.6 percent graduation rate for the class of 2012 -- an increase of 1.5 percentage points over two years.
Prince George's County on the other hand saw a 3.3 percentage-point decrease between 2010 and 2012. In 2012, the county's graduation rate was 72.9 percent, more than 10 points behind the state average.
Educators in Prince George's say they're concerned about what the downward trend could mean.
"A graduation rate under 73 percent is just not acceptable," Prince Geoge's County Public Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell told News4. "I can't say that we're going to jump to 85 percent in a year -- we're already halfway through the school year -- but we're absolutely focused on it and taking dramatic steps to make sure we turn that around."
Jodikaye Richards and her peers are part of a rigorous program at the Academy of Health and Human Sciences Middle College at Prince George's Community College. The first graduating class is expected to have a 100 percent graduation rate.
"[Graduation] is not a hope, it's an achieveable hope," Richards said. "I’m not being sidetracked by people who don’t necessarily have the same goals. Not only future goals, but also, like I’m going to get an A on this test or study for this homework assignment."
Maryland is outpacing the national graduation rate. Using 2010 data, the National Center for Education Statistics estimated this year that 78 percent of public school students nationally earned a diploma within four years of starting high school.