[lin_video src=http://eplayer.clipsyndicate.com/embed/player.js?aspect_ratio=16×9&auto_next=1&auto_start=0&div_id=videoplayer-1368746918&height=480&page_count=5&pf_id=9624&show_title=1&va_id=4060550&width=640&windows=2 service=syndicaster width=640 height=480 div_id=videoplayer-1368746918 type=script]BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Across the nation, high school graduation rates are at their highest since 1976.
Still, the Department of Education says more than 1/5 of students are failing to earn their diploma in four years.
For many students, economic factors, personal obstacles and peer pressure push a high school diploma farther down on their list of priorities.
One group of Birmingham students is bucking that trend.
On Thursday, they reaped the rewards of taking charge of their own lives.
More than 140 students received their diplomas from the Birmingham City Schools Drop Out Recovery program.
The 12-month program is designed to help 17 to 21-year-olds get back on the path to education.
Not only do the students obtain their diploma, but the program opens doors to both higher education and better job opportunities.
The program has seen a significant increase in graduates since it began in 2011 with 33 students.
Copyright 2013 WIAT-TV CBS 42