The Journal Gazette
Thursday, December 30, 2021 1:00 am

Area grad rates beat state average

But most schools' percentages fell for 2021

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Most Allen County high schools this year outpaced the statewide graduation rate, which fell to its lowest percentage since at least 2014, according to information the Indiana Department of Education released Wednesday.

Statewide, 86.7% of the class of 2021 graduated, after seven years of graduation rates that ranged between 87.3% and 89.8%.

“These graduation rates correspond with research that shows that the academic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are substantial,” the department said in a statement. “In response, IDOE launched several accelerated learning programs, which are still underway and will be joined by additional efforts planned for next year.”

Almost 30 public and private schools statewide had a rate of 100%, including three in Allen County – East Allen University of East Allen County Schools, Bishop Dwenger High School and Blackhawk Christian Middle/High School.

Ten other Allen County schools surpassed the statewide rate – three private schools and seven schools representing each of the four public school districts.

EACS and Fort Wayne Community Schools each had two schools with rates below the statewide percentage. South Side High School of FWCS had the lowest graduation rate at 81.7%.

Overall, the districts bested the state's rate, ranging from 88.6% (Fort Wayne Community Schools) to 95.7% (Northwest Allen County Schools). Rates for EACS and Southwest Allen County Schools were 88.7% and 93.9%, respectively.

None of the local districts improved on the previous year's rates, however. EACS posted the smallest decline, 1.5 percentage points, while FWCS recorded the biggest drop, 3.7 percentage points.

The lower rates for FWCS' five high schools weren't surprising because the state waived some graduation requirements at the start of the pandemic, district spokeswoman Krista Stockman said. The department cautioned against comparisons with 2020 data for that reason.

Compared with 2019, FWCS improved by 2.8 percentage points, with four of its five high schools showing improvement.

“We were pleased to see graduation rates continuing to improve from pre-pandemic years as high schools continue to focus on the individual needs of each student,” Stockman said through email. “This is particularly evident in the continuing reduction of students relying on waivers to graduate.”

Statewide, the department said, more than 78% of students graduated without requiring a waiver from passing the graduation qualifying exam.

That's an increase of almost 2 percentage points from 2019.

Almost 40% of Hoosier students graduated with a Core 40 honors diploma or an International Baccalaureate diploma, the department added. Students can earn a Core 40 diploma with academic or technical honors by satisfying multiple requirements, including GPA benchmarks, beyond diploma minimum requirements.

Katie Jenner, Indiana secretary of education, commented on the results in a statement.

“Looking ahead into 2022 and beyond,” she said, “we must continue to work together to ensure our students earn their high school diploma and have access to intentional post-secondary credentials in high school.”

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