Idaho high school graduation rate falls

Idaho’s 2021 high school graduation rate fell to 80.1% after a year rocked by COVID-19.

The number represents a 2 percentage point drop from 2020, when the rate climbed from 80.7% in 2019 to 82.1%. The State Board of Education in April of 2020 directed schools to close through the end of that academic year to slow the spread of COVID-19. Some learning shifted online, but the state waved some graduation requirements, such as completion of senior projects.

Challenges tied to the pandemic continued into 2021, as educators here and nationwide grappled with transitions to remote and hybrid learning. Those issues likely fueled declines in at least 20 other states in 2021, halting nearly two decades of nationwide progress toward getting more students diplomas, Chalkbeat reported Monday.

On Tuesday, state superintendent Sherri Ybarra linked Idaho’s 2021 drop to COVID-19.

“The traditional four-year graduation rate for the Class of 2021 shows the impacts of the pandemic, not surprising considering COVID-19 disrupted both the junior and senior years for these students,” Ybarra said in a statement Tuesday.

Ybarra on Thursday took comfort in the state’s five-year rate, which climbed from 83.3% in 2019 to 84.1% in 2020. The five-year rate includes students who needed an extra semester or entire year to graduate.

EdNews requested statewide graduation rates on Jan. 10 from Ybarra’s State Department of Education. The SDE sent the information Tuesday afternoon, two hours before Ybarra’s prepared statement.

Here’s a look at the rate since 2017:

Class Four-year grad rate
2017 79.9%
2018 80.6%
2019 80.7%
2020 82.1%
2021 80.1%

Numbers released Tuesday show declines among various at-risk and student minority groups from 2020 to 2021:

  • The number fell from 75.7% to 71.8% among Hispanic and Latino students, Idaho’s largest student minority group. The grad rate among these students increased by nearly 2 percentage points in 2020.
  • The rate dropped from 59% to 55.8% for students with disabilities. These students saw a 3 percentage point increase in 2020.
  • The grad rate for English language learners dropped from 64.6% to 61.1%. This group’s rate fell by nearly 10 percentage points in 2020.
  • Migrant students saw rates fall from 70.3% to 63.7%. The number increased by 6 percentage points in 2020.

Idaho’s 2021 graduation rate fell well short of the state’s 2021 goal of 92.4%.

EdNews data analyst Randy Schrader contributed to this story. We will update this story with more information throughout the day.

Devin Bodkin

Devin Bodkin

Devin was formerly a senior reporter and editor for Idaho Education News and now works for INL in communications.

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