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Charles County high schools continue to make progress in keeping students in school and on the path to graduation.

The Maryland State Department of Education released graduation rates earlier this month for students in the graduating class of 2013 who graduated in four years.

The state determines graduation rates using a cohort count. The adjusted cohort graduation rate ensures that all students who entered ninth grade together are accounted for in the graduation rate at the end of four years and at the end of five years, according to information from MSDE.

Charles County averages 89.7 percent for all six high schools for the four-year cohort, which was most recently released.

The county bested the state average of 84.9.

Amy Hollstein, assistant superintendent of instruction for the school system, said she is “very very pleased with the scores.”

Hollstein said the five-year cohort is just as important because some students take longer to graduate.

Some students, she said, “just need more time.”

She pointed to a lot of programs and plans in place to try and keep student on target for graduating.

Programs include grade recovery programs and Saturday school at some high schools, and each school will be receiving additional funds this year to go toward instructional programs and resources in the spring.

The school system did away with the summer reading program and will use the funds instead to boost programs during the school year.

Maurice J. McDonough High School had the biggest increase with a graduation rate of 88.7. This represents a little more than a two-point increase from the year before.

Thomas Stone High School saw the biggest decrease from 88.6 percent in 2012 to 80.6 percent last year.

Principal Michael Meiser said “we have to do better.”

He said there are many different reasons for the percentage to go down. For example, a student can enroll in the school as a senior and not make it through or get hung up in the first couple of years of high school and graduate later than the rest of his or her class. He said there was a larger number of students who made it in the five-year cohort for the 2013 class.

This year’s crop of graduates will determine the rates for the five-year cohort for the 2013 set of students — who entered ninth grade in 2009. The rates for the five-year cohort that graduated on time in 2012 were for Charles County, 92.4 percent, and for Thomas Stone, 90.9 percent.

Meiser said he didn’t want to latch on to an excuse as to why his school slipped in graduation rate.

“Instead of sitting and complaining, we are going to find solutions. We’re going to own it and find ways to get to 100 percent,” which he said ultimately is every school’s goal.

Currently, Thomas Stone has grade recovery programs in place, Saturday school for students who need additional supports and extended learning opportunities after school with activity buses for transportation home.

“Teachers work hard. Parents work hard, and students work hard to make it happen,” Meiser said.

He said with many resources already in place one goal is to work to get students who need it to take advantage of them.

The school with the highest graduation rate is North Point High School. The state reported North Point at or above 95 percent. The state does not report higher than 95.