DENVER — Colorado’s graduation rate reached its highest level in a decade with the Class of 2020, despite school closures and disruptions caused by the pandemic.
The Colorado Department of Education on Tuesday said 81.9% of high school seniors, or 55,220 students, graduated from public and charter schools last spring, The Denver Post reported.
Colorado’s high school graduation rate has increased 9.5% since 2010, the department said.
The number of student departures also fell during the 2019-2020 school year, when 8,561 seventh- through 12th-graders, or 1.8%, left the education system. The figure was the lowest in a decade, the department said.
There were 716 fewer students leaving the system compared to the previous year. About 83% of school districts reported dropout rates at or below the state average.
The pandemic disrupted the spring semester by closing schools and postponing many commencements but likely did not impact how many seniors graduated, said Andy Tucker, education department director of postsecondary and workforce readiness.
Most students already had completed or were on track to complete their graduation requirements, Tucker said.
Preliminary data show enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year is down 3.3%, or nearly 30,000 students. Keeping students engaged has proven challenging across grades without in-person instruction, Tucker said.
“What research is telling us is that it’s very possible rates may regress next year and in the coming years due to the fact that student engagement in the virtual space has been difficult,” Tucker said.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.