The High School Graduation Rate Improved This Year? Really?

Despite the closure of schools due to COVID-19 in March, 92.3% of Virginia students entering the ninth grade during the 2016-18 school year earned a diploma and graduated within four years in 2020, Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane announced yesterday.

That actually represents an improvement from 91.5% for the 2019 cohort.

“My first priority after schools closed was to make sure that every student in the class of 2020 who was on track to earn a diploma was able to graduate on time,” Lane said. “In addition to congratulating our 2020 graduates, I want to thank all of the educators and administrators who made full use of the flexibility provided under the emergency waivers I issued in the spring to ensure that students were not held back because being unable to take a Standards of Learning test or complete a required course.”

Question: Given the fact that the last two months of school this spring were disrupted, did 92.3% of students deserve to graduate, or are Virginia schools unleashing thousands of graduates upon the world who, in the pre-COVID world, would have failed to meet graduation standards?