Louisiana graduation rate edged up in 2013 _lowres

Photo provided by Dana Simmons -- Parkview Baptist School graduates toss their caps into the air May 19 at the end of the graduation ceremony held at Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge.

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana’s Department of Education says the percentage of state high-school students graduating within four years has increased again.

Figures released Friday show that the rate hit 73.5 percent for 2013. That’s a little more than a 1 percentage point increase from 2012. It was the third consecutive increase. And it marks a jump of more than 12 percentage points from 2001.

The rate remains low when compared to the rest of the nation. And the department acknowledged challenges as it released the figures. Among them: Just under 37 percent of students with disabilities graduate on time.

Also, only 56 percent of the 2013 graduates entered universities or community colleges. The department said that number needs to be increased because most jobs in Louisiana require education after high school.