The graduation rate for Sweet Home High School seniors increased 3 percent, to 93 percent, between last year and this year; however, school district officials also seek to raise the percentage of seniors who graduate with an advanced Regents diploma.

The percentage of students in the district who graduated with an advanced Regents diploma is now at 47 percent, Sweet Home High School Assistant Principal Thomas Roberts and Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Larry Leaven told the School Board at a study session Tuesday night.

Roberts said three students equals one percentage point, which means about nine more students graduated in 2012 over last year.

“What it comes down to is, out of 335 students, 22 didn’t make it,” said Roberts. “Those individuals are students that, right now, I probably know every single one of them pretty well [and] have a good relationship with them.”

Roberts said four students still seek to graduate soon.

“If they pass their exam, they will be a graduate this January. That’s extremely important to us. An additional four are fifth-year students who are returning to us … so we might be able to get this percentage up around 96 by January,” Roberts said.

“We have 12 students that have dropped out and have decided themselves that they are not coming back for any further education,” he added. “We need to still decrease that. We are constantly working hard to do that and, hopefully, next year, we get that to be even lower.”

Meanwhile, the data also showed a 12 percent increase in the graduation rate among economically disadvantaged students in the district; the rate went from 83 percent in 2011 to 95 percent this year.

Among students with disabilities, there was an 18 percent rise in graduates, from 55 percent in 2011 to 73 percent this year.

The graduation rate among black students in the district rose 6 percent, from 85 percent last year to 94 percent this year. However, only 22 percent of black seniors graduated with an advanced Regents diploma, compared with 47 percent of seniors overall.

The students who graduate with distinction usually take 26 to 30 more credit units than the average student, who takes 22, Roberts and Leaven explained.

In addition to completing Regents exams in math, English, science and two in social studies, the students who graduate with distinction complete Regents exams in two to four additional subject areas.

Roberts said 30 students who failed the Algebra II Trigonometry Regents are being prepared to retake the test in January. If they pass, that could increase the rate of students graduating with distinction by 10 percent.

The students would still have to pass a foreign language Regents exam, as well.

“We really have to step it up, because there’s so much more that we have to do,” Leaven said. “We’re trying to allocate our resources to really get the kids to this level here.”