PORTLAND, Maine — School officials in Maine’s largest city say the dropout rate in Portland’s high schools and middle schools is down 55 percent.

School officials say the reduction of the dropout number reflects the district’s ongoing effort to ensure more students graduate each year from Portland, Deering and Casco Bay high schools.

Superintendent Jim Morse tells the Portland Press Herald that at Portland High School the dropout number fell by two-thirds from the 2007-2008 school year to the year that ended in June 2009.

Portland High Principal Mike Johnson credits a strong alternative education program.

Morse plans to discuss the dropout data at a school committee meeting Wednesday.