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Michigan four-year high school graduation rates down, mirror national trend

Charles DeLoye

Michigan’s four-year high school graduation rates dipped last school year. That's according to the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information.

The 80.47% completion rate marks the stat’s first drop since the 2015-2016 school year.

Lauren Leeds, a spokesperson for the State Budget Office, which oversees the center, said there is a silver lining.

“While the four-year statewide graduation rate decreased, so did the dropout rate, which means that more students are continuing on past four years working toward a high school diploma,” Leeds said.

Graduation rates within five or six years of starting high school went up last school year, even as the four-year graduation rate declined.

Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals Executive Director Wendy Zdeb said the trend of students taking more time to graduate could continue.

“I think we need to make allowances for that and not necessarily look at that as a punishing factor for schools who may not be graduating students in four years, if it’s their choice," she said.

Zdeb said for some students, taking five or six years to finish high school works better than a four-year program.

Education leaders blamed the pandemic for the decline in four-year graduation rates.

“The pandemic has had an adverse impact on four-year graduation rates for most but not all groups of students -- and especially so for certain groups of students: economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, Black and Native American students, and homeless students,” State Superintendent Michael F. Rice said in a statement.

Zdeb said the drop in four-year graduation rates isn’t surprising to her.

“We’ve had so much difficulty trying to meet the needs of students in terms of just their overall physical health, but also their mental health, and that was definitely going to have an impact, unfortunately,” Zdeb said.

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