CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Public Schools officials said high school students set a record graduation rate this school year.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports CPS administrators touted a graduation rate of 65.4 percent for the class of 2013, topping last year’s mark of 61.2 percent, for the best graduation rate on record.

That means more than 19,900 high schoolers who entered their freshman year in 2008 graduated this year.

CPS Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett pointed to recent improvements, such as a longer school day, more spending on early childhood education, and the expansion of innovative programs such as the International Baccalaureate.

However, the Chicago Teachers Union said the closing of 49 elementary schools this summer, and cutting classroom budgets by $68 million at CPS, has gutted education in the nation’s third largest school district.

The next school year begins on Aug. 26.