MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Federal education officials say Alabama has a high school graduation rate of 72 percent among all students, ranking it behind neighboring Tennessee and Mississippi, but ahead of Georgia and Florida.
The U.S. Department of Education released the data this week. It details four-year high school graduation rates in 2010-11 - the first year for which all states used a common, rigorous measure.
Federal officials say varying methods of graduation rates states used previously were unreliable for state-by-state comparisons.
However, education officials said in a statement that the new data released Monday allow for such comparisons and can be used by states, districts and schools to promote greater accountability and increase graduation rates.
Among states bordering Alabama, Tennessee scored highest with an overall rate of 86 percent.