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An analysis shows grad rates dipping across the country as the pandemic stalls progress

Javin Lujan-Trujillo
Cedar Attanasio
/
AP
This file photo shows a New Mexico student logging into a remote learning site on his laptop at his home in February 2021. A Florida student described his high school classes as mostly online with “​​low social interaction, low teacher interaction.” He often turned to YouTube to figure out confusing assignments.

Data from 26 states - including Florida - suggests the coronavirus may have ended nearly two decades of nationwide progress toward getting diplomas to more students.

An analysis shows high school graduation rates dipped in at least 20 states after the first full school year disrupted by the pandemic.

The analysis of data from 26 states - including Florida - by Chalkbeat suggests the coronavirus may have ended nearly two decades of nationwide progress toward getting diplomas to more students.

The drops came despite at least some states and educators loosening standards to help struggling students. Most states waived outstanding graduation requirements in 2020 and saw graduation rates tick up.

But graduation rates fell last year in 20 of the states that released data. Comprehensive data is not yet available.

Those declines were less than a percentage point in some states to as much as 2 points in others. including Illinois, Oregon, and North Dakota.

Florida had seen graduation rates jump by more than 2 points every year for a decade but gained just a tenth of a point in 2021, even as state officials waived certain diploma requirements.

One of last year’s graduates, 19-year-old De’karius Graham of Polk County, had an up-close view of how 12th-graders struggled.

There was no prom to look forward to, and all his senior classes were online, an experience he describes as “low social interaction, low teacher interaction.”

He often turned to YouTube to figure out confusing assignments.

“It was a lot of self-teaching and self-motivation,” he said. “I was just really alone with it all.”

Click here to read more of the article from the Associated Press.