A troubling post-pandemic pattern is emerging across the nation’s schools: Test scores and attendance are down, yet more students are earning high school diplomas. A new report from Washington, D.C., suggests bleak futures for many of these high school graduates, given the declining rate of college attendance and completion.
The numbers are stark in a March 2023 report by the D.C. Policy Center, a nonpartisan research organization. Almost half the students in the district – 48% – were absent for 10% or more of the 2021-22 school year. Seven years of academic progress were erased in math: Only 19% of third through eighth graders met grade-level expectations in the subject in 2021-22, down from 31% before the pandemic.
At the same time, the high school graduation rate rose to a record 75%, up from 68% in 2018-19. Although the city is producing more high school graduates, fewer of them are heading off to college. Within six months of high school graduation, only 51% of the class of 2022 enrolled in post-secondary education, down from 56% from the class of 2019.