Tennessee’s High School Graduation Rate Declines, New Data Reveals

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Tennessee’s graduation rate among public school students has declined for the first time since 2015, according to data on the Tennessee Department of Education’s website.

A total of just 89.6 percent of the state’s high school students graduated in 2020, the TDOE’s website reported.

The TDOE website reported the following numbers for past five academic school years:

• Tennessee’s high school graduation rate for the 2018-2019 school year was 89.7 percent

• Tennessee’s high school graduation rate for the 2017-2018 and also the 2016-2017 school years was 89.1 percent

• Tennessee’s high school graduation rate for the 2015-2016 school year was 88.5 percent

• Tennessee’s high school graduation rate for the 2014-2015 school year was 87.9 percent

The Tennessee Star sent an email to the TDOE’s public information office Monday and specifically asked department officials to comment. We also asked what, if anything, they can say to public school parents and other state residents to assure them that this is not the start of a downward trend.

Unfortunately, no one at the TDOE immediately returned our request for comment.

The information is available on the TDOE website’s Data Downloads & Requests page under the sub-category titled “Graduate Cohort Data.”

“The Graduation Cohort data displays the numerator, denominator, and graduation rates for all Tennessee public schools and districts, as well as the state as a whole,” according to the TDOE’s website.

As The Star reported in April, members of the Tennessee Board of Education lowered graduation requirements this spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the rules, which were in effect for 180 days, high school students couldn’t receive a grade lower than one they earned in their courses as of March 20, but they could still improve their grades via remote learning opportunities.

High school seniors weren’t required to take end-of-course exams, the state’s required civics exam, or the ACT or SAT in order to graduate. Additionally, state officials lowered the number of credits required for graduation from 22 to 20 for that academic year.

Students aren’t weren’t required to participate in the Tennessee comprehensive assessment program (TCAP) tests for the spring semester.

“The board has also directed public schools not to mark any students as absent or truant during the period of school closure, since some students don’t have Internet access and thus can’t participate fully in remote learning opportunities,” The Star reported at the time.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]




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One Thought to “Tennessee’s High School Graduation Rate Declines, New Data Reveals”

  1. John

    Looking at the data, Shelby and Davidson county numbers aren’t too surprising. Most everywhere that Liberals control, the schools are crap. Maybe Nashville should take the focus off professional sports and focus on the inner city and suburban neighborhoods and schools where the lowest scores are coming from.