WOODLAND — More than eight in 10 public high school students in the class of 2016 graduated on time, California's top education official announced Tuesday.

Just over 83 percent of the students finished in four years, up about 1 percentage point from the prior year to reach a new high, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said.

Graduation rates have risen for seven consecutive years, with the biggest increases among African-American and Latino students as well as English learners, according to data from the California Department of Education. However, graduation rates for those groups still lag behind those for white and Asian students.

"That's extremely positive to see that growth," Torlakson told media gathered at Woodland High School, east of Sacramento. "We've done a lot to concentrate resources where needs are greatest."

Torlakson attributed the improvements in large part to higher funding for California public schools that has reduced class sizes and expanded arts and science education.

He pointed to Woodland High as a model where he said career readiness programs have helped the school reach a graduation rate of 94 percent.

The federal Education Department is auditing the accuracy of the California Department of Education's graduation rate. But Torlakson said he believes the department's method of calculating graduation rate is accurate and indicative of rising student success. He said other indicators of student success, such as AP test scores, also show California students are doing well.

"I'm totally confident that the audit will find that we're doing everything right and reporting the data consistently over the years," Torlakson told the Associated Press.

As people are allowed back into their homes in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties, there are several safety issues to remember.

•Do not touch debris. Ash is a hazardous waste. Other hazards could include asbestos, heavy metals, byproducts of plastic combustion and other chemicals. Do not transport ash or debris to landfills or transfer stations. To be eligible for state-funded debris cleanup by CalRecycle, residents cannot move or spread debris. Any action by residents to remove debris may force CalRecycle to declare a site ineligible for the program.

•Wear protective clothing: closed-toed shoes, long pants, eye protection, a face mask and gloves.

•Do not rely on dust masks for protection. Paper masks found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles like sawdust and will not protect your lungs from the smaller particles found in wildfire smoke. If you want to wear a mask, look for one with a particulate respirator, labeled NIOSH-approved, marked N95 or P100. Look for them on Amazon, Home Depot or other hardware retailers.

•Keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed.

•Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution like smoking, burning candles or using fireplaces. Vacuuming stirs up particles inside your house, contributing to indoor pollution.

•Do not turn PG&E service on. Either PG&E has been there and turned the gas on or homeowners must wait for them to do so. Customers without gas service should stay as close to home as possible so service can be restored when a PG&E representative arrives. If no one is at home, the representative will leave a notice with a number that customers can call to schedule a return visit. PG&E can be reached at 800-743-5000.

•If you see downed power lines near your home, treat them as if they are “live” or energized and extremely dangerous. Keep yourself and others away from them. Call 911, then notify PG&E at 800-743-5002.