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Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, More Michigan Students Graduate High School


Feb. 26, 2021
Contact: Lauren Leeds, 517-242-7919

Lansing – During the COVID-19 pandemic, which closed schools for in-person learning last spring, Michigan high schoolers statewide graduated at a slightly higher rate in 2019-20, according to data released today by the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information.

The 2019-20 4-year graduation rate improved to 82.07%, a .66 percentage point increase from 2018-19. The year-over-year graduation rate increase from 2017-18 to 2018-19 was .77 percentage points. The dropout rate fell to 7.77%, a .59 percentage point decrease from the 2018-19 rate.

“Regardless of the pandemic, Michigan high school students continue to graduate at a higher percentage each year,” said CEPI Executive Director Tom Howell, “although closely analyzing the data shows that the year-over-year percent increase was slightly smaller than in 2018-19.”

Throughout the past decade, the graduation rate has increased 7.74%, with higher rates compared to the previous year in nine out of 10 years. More than half of school districts (51.99%) across the state showed a graduation rate increase for 2019-20.

Below is the statewide four-year trend for on-time four-year graduation and dropout rates:







4-Year Graduation Rate






4-Year Dropout Rate






“Given the advent of the pandemic last March, it’s good news that our graduation rates continued to increase,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “It’s a tribute to the hard work last spring of educators, students and parents.”

“It’s also good news that the gaps between African American and Hispanic students on the one hand and white students on the other have declined over the last decade,” Rice added. “For 2011, four-year graduation rates were 57.02%, 62.60%, and 80.14% for African American, Hispanic, and white students, respectively. For 2020, the gaps had narrowed, with four-year graduation rates of 70.37%, 75.48%, and 85.44%, respectively. While we still have significant room to improve with all groups of students, graduation rate increases and narrowing of the gaps in the last decade are welcome signs of improvement.”

Gaps associated with five-year graduation rates have narrowed even more. For 2011, five-year graduation rates were 62.56%, 68.31%, and 84.81% for African American, Hispanic, and white students, respectively. For 2020, the gaps had narrowed substantially, with five-year graduation rates of 74.11%, 80.06%, and 87.42%, respectively.

The statewide 5-year rate increased .65 percentage points to 84.44% and the 6-year rate grew to 84.48% percent, a .52 percentage point increase.

Of particular note, Early Middle College students (who take an extra year to graduate high school while earning college credit) consistently have 5- and 6-year graduation rates that exceed 97%. Similarly, EMC students have some of the lowest dropout.

Graduation and dropout rates can be found on CEPI’s MI School Data website ( Under the site’s K-12th Grade Students section, visitors can select a school or district or compare one district to another.

A bureau within the State Budget Office, CEPI facilitates the collection, management and reporting of public education data required by state and federal law. CEPI’s MI School Data website is Michigan's official education data portal to help residents, educators and policymakers make informed decisions that can lead to improved success for our students.