Idaho’s graduation rate rises during pandemic

Idaho’s graduation rate rose to 82.1 percent in 2020 amid a worldwide pandemic that closed most high schools during the final two months of the school year.

The State Board of Education issued a historic directive in April of 2020 to close schools through the end of the academic year in an attempt to protect families and slow the spread of the coronavirus. Spring sports and May graduation ceremonies were also canceled.

Some learning moved online for the final weeks of the school year, but seniors were not required to complete assignments and certain graduation requirements were waived, including the senior project for the class of 2020.

“The fact that our cohort rate rose above 82 percent for the first time is a credit to the perseverance of Idaho students and teachers to make sure the pandemic’s disruptions to in-person learning did not derail the final steps toward completing high school,” said State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra in a news release.

Multiple student demographic groups showed increases, including migrant students (up 6 percentage points to 70.3 percent) and students who are homeless (up 3.9 percentage points to 61 percent).

Some groups showed decreases. English Language Learners dropped 9.8 percentage points to 64.6 percent. Black/African American students dropped 4.8 percentage points to 68.8 percent and students from military families dropped 4.3 percentage points to 80 percent.

The 2020 graduation rate falls well short of Idaho’s goal in its Consolidated Plan, a blueprint to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal education law passed in 2015.  Ybarra, former Gov. Butch Otter and State Board of Education member Linda Clark signed off on the plan, approved unanimously by the State Board. The state wanted to have a graduation rate of 89.9 percent in 2020. Idaho has fallen short of its graduation rate mark for the past three years.

In a news release sent out on Friday afternoon, Ybarra said the graduation rate increase of 1.4 percentage points was the biggest jump since the state changed how it adjusted the calculation for graduation rates in 2014.

Download this report for trends in Idaho’s graduation rate.

EdNews data analyst Randy Schrader contributed to this story. 

Nik Streng

About Nik Streng

Nik Streng graduated with his bachelors degree in creative writing from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., in 2013 and graduated with his master’s in journalism from the University of Oregon. 

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