High school graduation rate drops in several US states

The high school graduation rate has fallen in around twenty American states since the start of the pandemic, shows an analysis carried out at the end of the first full school year to have taken place in the context of the health crisis.

Posted at 9:32

Matt Barnum, Kalyn Belsha et Thomas Wilburn Of Chalkbeat
Associated Press

The coronavirus could therefore have slowed down more than twenty years of progress in this regard. The declines have been seen even as several officials and jurisdictions have relaxed their rules to give struggling students a boost.

The data covers 26 US states and was analyzed by Chalkbeat.

“It worries me,” admitted Chris Reykdal, the head of education in Washington state, where the graduation rate slipped about 0.5%. I never want to see back. We have made such great progress. »

A drop in the high school graduation rate is seen in 20 of the 26 states that released their data. National data will likely not be available until 2023.

Declines of less than a percentage point occurred in states like Colorado, Georgia and Kansas. Illinois, Oregon and North Dakota saw their graduation rates drop by two percentage points. The decline was at least one point in Indiana, Maine, Nevada, South Dakota and West Virginia.

Growth, where it has occurred, has been modest. There was an increase of only 0.1 point in Florida in 2021 – a state where improvements of two percentage points had been recorded each year for ten years – and this, even if the rules of graduation were relaxed.

“We have to be concerned that graduation rates are falling and many students who have graduated have learned less than in previous years,” said Professor Robert Balfanz of the Johns Hopkins School of Education. But only time will tell how important this concern is. »

The pandemic has had multiple negative impacts on the last year of high school for several young people, for example by imposing distance learning on them, causing them to miss classes because they had to take care of their siblings younger or by canceling the end-of-year balls.

In 2001, it was estimated that 71% of young people who started their secondary studies completed them.

This percentage had jumped to 86% in 2019. This improvement would be due to a more muscular intervention by the federal government with the states to raise graduation rates, and not to a deterioration in standards.

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