The state department of education reports for the third year in a row the state's high school graduation rate has increased.

State Education Superintendent John White says for the class of 2013, 74 percent graduated in four years — a 12 percentage point increase from 2001.

That's going to mean motivated kids and pathways through college and right into the workplace.

"I commend our schools and our school systems for focusing relentlessly on the most fundamental of ideas, which is that every young man and woman deserves a chance at the life opportunity that is granted by a diploma," said White.

White credits holding districts and schools accountable for their graduation rate as a reason why the state has seen a recent rise in the percentage of students who receive a diploma.

"Now it shows up in schools accountability scores and it shows up in the letter grades of schools," said White. "It's a significant percentage of that."

White says although it's encouraging to see the graduation rate rise, the state's students still have a long way to go. He says he hopes a new program called "Jump Start," which provides career courses and workplace experiences to high school students, can improve the graduation rate even more.

"Jump Start is going to provide a pathway to technical opportunities in the work force that exist in our state in abundance," said White. "That's going to mean motivated kids and pathways through college and right into the workplace."