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Florida’s 2021-22 High School Graduation Rate Exceeds Pre-Pandemic Level, Students Showing Growth through Progress Monitoring Assessments

Press release from Florida Department of Education

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, the Florida Department of Education announced that Florida’s 2021-22 high school graduation rate was 87.3%, an increase of 0.4 percentage points over the 2018-19 pre-pandemic school year. (Alachua County Public Schools dropped from 88.5% to 85.8% between 2018-19 and 2021-22.) All subgroups of students, including Black students, Hispanic students, students from economically disadvantaged families, and students with disabilities, all increased their graduation rates from the 2018-19 school year. Comparing 2018-2019 to 2021-2022 represents a true “apples to apples” comparison, as the 2018-19 school year was the last year prior to 2021-22 that Florida’s statewide, standardized assessment requirements for graduation were in place without exemption waivers.

“These graduation results are the culmination of the hard work and dedication of Florida’s teachers, students, parents, and school leaders, along with Governor Ron DeSantis’ decision to keep schools open for in-person instruction,” said Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. “While many around the nation were lowering expectations and keeping at-risk students at a distance from their teachers and needed educational supports, Florida was empowering parents to make this decision, and moreover Florida’s teachers stepped up to the plate and delivered for students who had learning gaps to overcome.”

Florida is also continuing to see improvement in student achievement in the current 2022-23 school year, as the state implements the nation’s first full transition to a progress monitoring system of accountability. The Florida Assessment of Student Thinking (FAST) progress monitoring system consists of three student check-ins occurring at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year, with each event measuring the full year of academic learning expectations. Preliminary results from the first administration (PM1) to the second (PM2) as of early January 2023 already show significant improvement in the number of students performing on grade level based on full-year content expectations, and increases are expected to grow throughout the remainder of the school year:

  • In Grades 3-8 Mathematics, 31% of students are performing on grade level and above compared to only 14% at the beginning of the school year.
  • In VPK-Grade 2 Reading, 36% of students are meeting or exceeding grade-level expectations compared to only 20% at the start of the school year.

Progress monitoring places the focus where it should be – on students’ growth and how teachers, parents, and school leaders can support their growth. While this school year is a “hold harmless” transition year to progress monitoring, the fact that students’ scores are already elevating is an indication that educators are leveraging more timely and actionable student learning data.

“Florida’s graduation rate is a direct result of the determination of our students and the parents, school counselors, teachers, and district leaders who worked hard to ensure the 2022 Senior Class was ready for their next opportunities in life,” said State Board of Education Member Monesia Brown.

“While other states across the nation saw decreases in numerous academic achievement measures, Florida students continue on a strong, upward trajectory, with achievement gaps closing here in the graduation rates and also the previously released NAEP assessments. This is a reflection of Florida’s top-notch educators and the Governor’s unrelenting steadfast leadership,” said State Board of Education Member Grazie Christie.

Student Performance Highlights

  • Black/African American students’ graduation rate increased by 0.5 percentage points compared to 2018-19, rising from 81.5 percent in 2018-19 to 82 percent in 2021-22.
  • Students with disabilities increased their graduation rate by 2.9 percentage points compared to 2018-19, rising from 80.6 percent in 2018-19 to 83.5 percent in 2021-22.
  • The graduation rate for students from economically disadvantaged families improved by 0.2 percentage points compared to 2018-19, rising from 82.9 percent in 2018-19 to 83.1 percent in 2021-22.
  • Hispanic students’ graduation rate remained the same compared to 2018-19, with a rate of 85.9 percent.

For more on Florida’s FAST progress monitoring system, visit: 
https://www.fldoe.org/accountability/assessments/k-12-student-assessment/best/.

For more on Florida’s 2021-22 graduation rates, visit:
https://www.fldoe.org/accountability/data-sys/edu-info-accountability-services/pk-12-public-school-data-pubs-reports/students.stml

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