DENVER (AP/CBS4) – The Colorado Department of Education says the dropout rate for public school students is the lowest since 2003.

The department said Thursday the rate is now down for the seventh consecutive year. Officials say graduation rate increases were seen across nearly all racial and ethnic groups.

The department says many students are taking advantage of programs that give them more time to work toward a high school diploma.

Several schools last year within Denver Public Schools made significant gains, including south high school, with an almost 12 percent improvement in its graduation rate alone.

Students said their success begins with the school’s culture, support, and diversity representing some 60 countries.

Zack Lindsay is graduating this year. He’s heading to the University of Northern Colorado, to play football and work toward a teaching degree.

“I do want to start teaching and teach in Denver public schools and coach football in Denver public schools,” said Lindsay.

Denver Public Schools have also cut their dropout rate by over 60 percent.

That means 2,000 kids more per year are staying in school.

“I’m so grateful for the time I’ve had here and I cant wait to see what the future brings,” said South High senior Katie Berger.

Bruce Randolph High School also increased its on-time graduation rate by six percent.

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