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Students work during math class in Joselyne Garcia-Moreno’s classroom Sept. 22, 2022, at Lincoln High School in Denver. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun via Report for America)

Colorado’s four-year high school graduation rate for the class of 2022 ticked up to 82.3%, jumping 0.6 percentage points from the previous year, according to data released Tuesday by the Colorado Department of Education.

The increase marks a turnaround from 2021, when the state’s high school graduate rate dropped for the first time in more than a decade, dipping from 81.9% for the graduating class of 2020 to 81.7%.

However, the state’s dropout rate also increased 0.4 percentage points from 2021 to 2.2% — the first time the dropout rate went up since 2015, according to a news release from the state education department. Across the state, 10,524 students in grades 7-12 dropped out during the last school year while nearly half of all 178 school districts saw a year-over-year increase to their dropout rates.

The most recent boost in the state’s graduation rate adds to a trend of improvements since 2010, when Colorado changed how data is reported. The four-year graduation rate has increased by 9.9 percentage points in that time period, according to the release.

Last year, 56,284 students completed high school in four years — an increase of 442 students from 2021, according to the Department of Education. 

“I’m so excited that last year more kids than ever graduated from Colorado public schools, with increased graduation expectations and despite the challenges of the pandemic,” Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes said in a statement.

This is the first year Colorado expanded ways that students can earn enough credits to graduate. Individual school districts can use a “menu” provided by the state that allows students to demonstrate their readiness for their next step, including through standardized assessments like the SAT and ACT, an extensive capstone project or completion of courses that earn them college credit while they’re still in high school.

Additionally, the state’s graduation rates for students who earned a diploma over six and seven years also increased, according to the media release.

Students of color also made notable strides in graduating. The four-year graduation rate for students of color in 2022 was 76.8% — 0.7 percentage points more than the previous year. Black students saw an increase of 1.4 percentage points from 2021, with a graduation rate of 77.4% while Hispanic students’ graduation rate was 75.1%, 0.9 percentage points higher than the previous year. Still, achievement and opportunity gaps persist between students of color and their white peers, whose 2022 graduation rate was 87.3%.

Erica Breunlin

Email: erica@coloradosun.com Twitter: @EricaBreunlin