Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, Colorado’s high school graduation rate dips for the first time in a decade 

Written by: Children's Campaign
Date Posted: January 14, 2022

 Credit: Chalkbeat CO

The percent of Colorado high school students graduating within four years fell slightly to 81.7% in 2021, down from 81.9% in 2020, according to data released this week by the Colorado Department of Education. Although the decline was small, it is the first drop in the statewide graduation rate since Colorado changed the way it calculates graduation rates in 2010. The state’s dropout rate, which measures the percent of students in grades 7-12 who leave school during the school year and do not re-enroll, remained unchanged in 2021 at 1.8%. 

The decline in the high school graduation rate was concentrated among groups hit hardest by the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic: Indigenous students, Hispanic or Latino students, migrant students and students experiencing homelessness all saw declines in their graduation rates between 2020 and 2021. Data from other sources show that barriers to education driven by the pandemic, such as a lack of access to the internet to participate in remote learning, having a parent or caregiver who was an essential worker, and economic hardship due to pandemic-related job or income losses, were disproportionately likely to affect these groups. 

The data released this week serve as yet another example of the urgency of ensuring Colorado is meeting the educational and economic needs of our children and families amid an ongoing pandemic. For more information on how you can get involved in our efforts to prioritize kids during the legislative session, click here to see our 2022 Legislative Priorities. Click here to read more coverage of the 2021 high school graduation rate data release in Chalkbeat Colorado, or visit our KIDS COUNT Data Center to find the 2021 graduation rate for your county or school district. 

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About Children's Campaign

The Colorado Children’s Campaign is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization committed since 1985 to realizing every chance for every child in Colorado. We advocate for the development and implementation of data-driven public policies that improve child wellbeing in health, education and early childhood. We do this by providing Coloradans with trusted data and research on child wellbeing and organizing an extensive state-wide network of dedicated child advocates. For more information, please visit