Allen County school districts had reason to celebrate Friday with the release of the 2020 graduation rates.
Their districtwide rates ranged from 90.2% to 97.9%, besting the statewide rate of 87.7%, according to data released by the Indiana Department of Education.
The statewide rate previously was 87.3%.
"This modest improvement in Indiana's 2020 graduation rate is encouraging, especially as Hoosier students and educators have tackled unprecedented challenges throughout the pandemic," Katie Jenner, Indiana secretary of education, said in a statement.
The state graduation rate reflects the waiver of the graduation qualifying exam requirement for the 2020 cohort, which couldn't be administered due to the pandemic.
Of the four local school systems, Fort Wayne Community Schools saw the biggest gains from 2019, increasing from 85.8% to 92.3%.
The rate not only reflects increases at each of the five FWCS high schools, but it also is the highest since at least 2012, spokeswoman Krista Stockman said.
"Everyone knows the end of the year was challenging for the Class of 2020, but the work the students, parents and staff put in prior to the pandemic paid off," Stockman said. "Our schools have become increasingly focused on making sure students are prepared for life after high school. When they are prepared for the next step, they are more likely to graduate."
FWCS' overall graduation rate was particularly affected by gains at Northrop High School, which rose from 80.9% to 92.6%. Northrop benefited from lessons learned in 2019 about new graduation pathways, Stockman said, explaining confusion in 2019 led to delays for some students.
East Allen County Schools' graduation rate, which reflects five schools, remained relatively unchanged at 90.2%; it was 90.3% in 2019.
Superintendent Marilyn Hissong noted "significant growth" at New Haven Junior-Senior High School, which increased from 84.3% to 89.5%.
"Overall, East Allen County Schools is pleased with the graduation rates considering that we did not finish the school year in a traditional manner due to the pandemic," Hissong said in a statement.