The Tennessee Department of Education released the graduation rate for the 2020-21 school year and data shows that 88.7% of students graduated on time this year compared to 89.6% last year. According to a press release, 37 districts improved their graduation rates by graduating 95% or more of their cohorts.

“Our state remains committed to swift and urgent action to mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on our students,” Commissioner Penny Schwinn said in a statement. “The department was prepared for the negative impacts of the pandemic on our statewide graduation rate, 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.”

The press release notes that while several districts saw gains in their graduation rate, the overall statewide graduation rate declined compared to last year. For the 2020-21 school year, other  takeaways in the state are:

  • Jackson County, Lewis County, and Tennessee School for the Deaf improved their graduation rate by 5 percentage points or more
  • 34 districts improved the Students with Disabilities subgroup by 5 percentage points or more
  • 88.7% of the 2021 graduation cohort graduated on time with a regular diploma, which is lower than last year
  • 1,231 fewer students graduated in the 2021 cohort compared to last year, for a total of 63,283

Despite the statewide average drop, a select number of mid-state districts such as Wilson and Williamson County schools boast graduation rates well above the state average, reporting a more than 96% graduation rate.

Maury, Cheatham, and Robertson County schools each reported some of the steepest declines in the state. Maury County dropped by nearly 3%, Cheatham County dropped 4.6%, and Robertson County dropped by more than 6% from last school year.

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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]