September 21, 2023
Topeka Unified School District 501 graduated 846 students, or 81.7% of seniors, in May.

The pandemic was always going to affect Kansas’ plan to eventually graduate 95% of its high school students, but education leaders are starting to get the first widespread picture of exactly how COVID has affected high schoolers’ academic careers.

A year after reaching a record 88.3%, Kansas’ four-year graduation rate dipped to 88.1% for the graduating class of 2021, state data shows.

While the rate itself still reflects a second-best high for Kansas, the latest batch of data does represent a hurdle that could continue as the state tries to reach its 95% goal, said education commissioner Randy Watson.

“It doesn’t surprise me that, because of COVID and the interruptions of a pandemic, we did drop slightly,” he said. “It wasn’t significant enough to think that we can’t rebound from it, but we’re going to watch it closely.”