New data released by the Tennessee Department of Education shows that 88.7% of high school students in the Class of 2021 graduated on time. That’s nearly one percentage point lower than the Class of 2020.
Before the pandemic, Tennessee’s high school graduation rate was on an upward trend since 2013. In 2019, the state set a record-high with 89.7% of students earning a high school diploma within four years.
“The department was prepared for the negative impacts of the pandemic on our statewide graduation rate,” education commissioner Penny Schwinn wrote in a press release. “But we are confident that with the right investment and the partnership and dedication of our districts and schools, we can resume the upward trajectory in graduation rate and ensure we are preparing Tennessee students for success.”
Among the student groups that saw the steepest drops were the migrant, homeless and indigenous populations. Meanwhile, the graduation rates for Asian students and Hispanic students improved. Though the percentage of English learners who earned a diploma on time also slightly grew, the population had the lowest graduation rate compared to other groups.
In middle Tennessee, Davidson, Wilson and Rutherford county saw their graduation rates decline only by half a percentage point while Sumner and Montgomery’s school districts saw their numbers drop by 1.2 and 1.4 points respectively. Meanwhile, Williamson County slightly improved their graduation rate.