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Baltimore officials say black male students are the main reason behind the city school system’s improvement in its graduation and dropout rates.

Over the last three years, black males have improved their graduation rate and decreased their dropout rate at a faster pace than city school students as a whole.

The graduation rate for black males still lags behind the system as a whole. About 57 percent of black male students graduated in the most recent school year, compared to 66 percent of all students.

In 2007, there were 1,537 black male graduates and almost as many dropouts. But this year, there were 1,724 graduates and only 593 dropouts.

City schools chief Andres Alonso says only Houston has seen similar improvements over the last three years, and national education experts say the city’s achievement is unusual.

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