Baltimore County Public Schools has the fourth highest graduation rate among the nation’s 50 largest school districts, according to a report released today by Education Week.

The BCPS graduation rate was 77.8 percent for the Class of 2008, according to the Diplomas Count 2011 report titled “Beyond High School, Before Baccalaureate: Meaningful Alternatives to a Four-Year Degree.” The 2010 report ranked the school system in sixth place nationwide, based on its 2007 graduation rate of 76.7 percent.

“The commitment to education shown by our staff, parents, and community continues to pay dividends for our students,” said Superintendent Dr. Joe A. Hairston in a statement. “We are proud that more of our students are graduating on-time with the skills they need to succeed in college and in the workforce.”

The 2008 BCPS graduation rate of 77.8 percent is higher than the rate for the state of Maryland (76.8 percent) and significantly higher than the rate for the nation (71.7 percent).

Dr. Hairston noted that increased diversity in the schools now mirrors the diversity of the nation as a whole, as well as a trend in globalization. While Baltimore County’s schools continually serve primarily a middle and upper-middle class population, the county continues to grow more diverse, including more families living in poverty and more children with limited English skills. “The staff and students of BCPS are demonstrating to the nation that race, ethnicity, and family income do not have to be predictors of academic success. Our positive performance has been consistent throughout our transformation,” Hairston said. “We have high expectations for all of our students, and they are living up to those high expectations every day.”