Number getting five good GCSE grades up by 10% in five years
More young people are achieving at least five good GCSEs than five years ago, official figures have revealed.
In the 2014/15 academic year, 81.8% reached the milestone, up nearly 10% on 2009/10.
While the pass rate drops to 66% when English and maths are included, that still represents a rise of 6.9%.
The pass rate at A-level also increased from 35.5% in 2009/10 to 38.2% in 2014/15.
Around 42.3% of school leavers in 2014/15 went on to higher education.
Overall, 95% of the same group continued their education or went into either employment or training.
New Education Minister Peter Weir welcomed the results and paid tribute to students and teachers for their hard work.
"Today's results demonstrate that our young people have been working hard to achieve success, and I am very pleased to see their hard work is paying off," Mr Weir said.
"School leaders and teachers are clearly focused on meeting their pupils' needs and ensuring that they attain the qualifications that will help them progress into further or higher education, or training and employment."
Mr Weir, the first DUP MLA to hold the education brief, which has been dominated by Sinn Fein since devolution, added that he wanted to see more help for struggling pupils.
"There are still some groups where the proportion achieving this academic threshold is still too low, and significant gaps remain - between boys and girls, between our most and least deprived pupils and between Protestants and Catholics," he added.
"We need to have ambitious targets for these pupils, and we need to offer them the support to achieve their full potential.
"Our young people have the capacity to achieve - over four-fifths of our school leavers achieved at least five GCSEs at A*-C or equivalent, but when we include GCSEs in English and maths, the proportion achieving this measure drops to two-thirds.
"Ensuring that more are leaving with English and maths remains a challenge and, given the central importance of those skills, it is one I aim to address."
However, Mr Weir's department faces significant financial challenges - a fact the Education Minister admitted during a trip to Bangor Grammar School earlier this week.