The nation’s graduation rate has reached a record high, President Barack Obama announced Monday.

During a speech to students at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C., Obama said the nation set a record 83.2 percent graduation rate in the 2014-2015 school year. Graduation rates among African Americans and Hispanics also hit an all-time high at 75 percent and 78 percent, respectively.

“Some of the changes we made were hard, some were controversial. We expected more from our teachers and our students,” Obama said. “But the hard work that people have put in across the country has started to pay off.”

The president touted early education changes and grant initiatives such as Race to the Top.

The figures come from the U.S. Department of Education and are a four-year adjusted cohort.

Kansas had a graduation rate of 85.7 percent. The District of Columbia was the lowest with 68.5 percent and Iowa was the highest with 90.8 percent.

An adjusted cohort follows a class over four years and divides the final number of students, after adding or subtracting transfers, by the total number of graduates.

Locally, the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rates are from the 2013-14 school year — the latest numbers available from the Kansas State Department of Education.

The figures show the highest graduation rate in Crawford County was Southeast High School at 98.3 percent. Girard was second at 95.8 percent, Frontenac third at 92.7 percent; then Northeast at 81.6 percent and finally Pittsburg with a 77 percent graduation rate.

“I think the most important thing is, you have to keep the kids in school,” Southeast Superintendent of Schools Brad Miner said. “And I think we do a really good job.”

Miner said the district offers additional help and programs for at-risk students.

Pittsburg Superintendent of Schools Destry Brown said the district’s numbers are affected by students in different programs such as Elm Acres — the county’s program for juvenile offenders. Brown said students in Elm Acres and other programs often leave the district and never enroll anywhere else.

“They are counted against us,” he said, adding the district has remedied the discrepancies to its graduation rate. He said this year will “more closely reflect what’s really happening at Pittsburg High School. The graduation rate this year will be around 88 percent, he said.

The district also has programs to help students at risk. One of those programs, which began at PHS four years ago, is Communities In Schools, which uses a site coordinator to work with at-risk students.

— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at mstavola@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.