AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- According to the Department of Education, Maine's graduation rate has increased for the third year in a row, but Commissioner Stephen Bowen says there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Maine's graduation rate in 2012 was just over 85% up nearly 5% from 2009. However, 40% of Maine's schools did not improve in 2012, and Governor Paul LePage says about 2,000 students drop out of Maine schools every year.
David Connerty-Marin with the Department of Education says schools have been making their own changes to and seeing what works. He says by spreading news of what works, they can help more schools increase their rates. One example he offers is more schools using "proficiency-based education."
"Really working with students and helping them move at the rate that works for them," Connerty-Marin says, "So that students who haven't mastered standards, we don't send them on to the next material before they've mastered what they need to know, so that we dont set them up for failure."
Four years ago the state changed the way graduation rates were calculated -- it's now a formula used nationwide to make sure all states are on the same page.
Maine did not make the top 20%, but is above the national average. Iowa comes in at the top at 88%, which is just above Maine's 85%.