Slightly fewer Maryland students graduated within the Class of 2023

High school graduation rates in Prince George’s County fell for the Class of 2023 and remained relatively flat in Montgomery County, according to data released by the state’s Department of Education Tuesday.

According to the data, 74.4 percent of Prince George’s high school students graduated within four years in 2023, compared to 76.6 percent from the Class of 2022. The Montgomery County school system reported a graduation rate of 89.6 percent, which was down slightly from 90.3 percent in the previous year.

Across the state, about 85.8 percent of students in the Class of 2023 earned diplomas within four years, the state data show, down slightly from a graduation rate of 86.3 percent for students from the previous class. Among economically disadvantaged students, the graduation rate increased by about five percentage points to 80.8 percent.

Maryland education leaders said the pandemic contributed to the slight decline in the overall graduation rate, noting students in the Class of 2023 were in the ninth grade when schools switched to remote learning in March 2020.

But they also expressed concerns about academic progress of Hispanic and Latino students, who comprise the fastest growing demographic in the state and make up half of the students who dropped out of school from the Class of 2023.

Overall, 9.8 percent of all Maryland students in the Class of 2023 dropped out, compared to 8.5 percent from the year before, according to the department’s data. The rates among Hispanic and Latino students were much higher — with about 22.9 percent reportedly dropping out, according to the state’s data.

“I think it’s striking to me just the disparity with the Hispanic population,” said Nick Greer, a state board member from Baltimore City. “It started to bring up a lot of questions for me about, ‘What are we doing? What are we learning?’”

The statewide data showed persisting economic and racial disparities in which students receive a high school diploma within four years. About 93 percent of White students in the Class of 2023 graduated within four years. Meanwhile, about 85 percent of Black students and 71 percent of Hispanic and Latino students graduated from the Class of 2023.

Joshua Michael, vice president of the state education board, said the state’s “Latinx students are performing at the bottom of the country when we compare to Latinx students in other states.” He referenced the state’s results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often regarded as the nation’s report card. “ … It speaks to a more systemic issue in our school system.”

He added that he would like to see more subgroup analysis moving forward.

According to enrollment data from the 2022-23 school year, about 33 percent of all Maryland students were White, and another 33 percent were Black. Hispanic and Latino students made up about 22 percent of all students.

Data from the Maryland Department of Planning shows that between 2000 and 2020, the state saw an increase of about 331 percent in its Hispanic and Latino student population. Already, Hispanic and Latino students are the majority in the Maryland’s largest school system — Montgomery County Public Schools.

On Tuesday, state officials spoke of a lingering impact of the pandemic on some students. The Class of 2023 also remained in virtual learning throughout their sophomore year, and the state experienced higher rates of chronic absenteeism during their junior year, said Chandra Haislet, an assistant state superintendent.

“We are still feeling the effects of the pandemic,” Haislet said during a state board meeting.

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