ST. JOSEPH COUNTY ‒ The state released high school graduation rates on Friday. Local schools saw a big improvement, including South Bend and Penn high schools. Ida Anderson is getting ready to graduate high school in May. Quite a feat considering she started her junior year with just two credits. "I think they said I missed 138 days my freshman year," Anderson said. When she began high school she was homeless, hanging out with the wrong crowd and doing drugs. She didn't expect to graduate. There are a lot of students on the same track, but that number is trending downward in many area schools as the graduation rates trend up. "When I saw the results, we were pleased, but with the understanding we have a long way to go," said South Bend Superintendent James Kapsa. On Friday, the state released yearly graduation rates showing how many students graduate in four years. South Bend saw an increase from 61 percent in 2008 to 71 percent in 2009. Penn High School's rates went from 82 to 85 percent. "We of course were really happy to see our graduation rate go up. We have made that one of our school improvement goals," says Penn High School Principal Steve Hope. Administrators can't pinpoint an exact reason for the increase, but at Penn programs like Freshman Academy are helping. The Academy is creating smaller learning communities to provide help and support. And in South Bend the career education program is helping students find their niche. For Ida, her hard work, and the knowledge her school is behind her, will take her well beyond graduation. "I'm on it. I will graduate. I have to graduate. There is nothing that can stop me," says Anderson. South Bend and Penn high schools were not the only districts to see improvement. About a third of the schools in the state had at least a five percent increase in their graduation rate.