High-school graduation rates dropped in at least 20 states after the first full school year disrupted by the pandemic, The Independent has reported somberly. The results were obtained from 26 states and analyzed by Chalkbeat. Some fear that the next several graduating classes will be even more affected. "It does concern me," expressed Chris Reykdal, the school's superintendent in Washington State, where the graduation rate sank by about half a point. "I don't ever want to see a decline. We've made such steady progress." [tweet_embed] January 26, 2022[/tweet_embed] In 2020, when schools closed for the final months of the school year, most states waived existing graduation requirements and saw graduation rates increase, Chalkbeat noted. However, in 2021, graduation rates fell in 20 of 26 states that have released their data. According to the analysis, comprehensive national data will likely not be available until 2023. Illinois, Oregon, and North Dakota saw graduation rates drop 2 points, and Indiana, Maine, Nevada, South Dakota, and West Virginia saw declines of at least 1 point. Where rates increased, growth was modest. Florida, for example, had rising graduation rates of more than 2 points each year for a decade but gained just a tenth of a point in 2021, even when state officials waived certain diploma requirements. "We do have to be concerned that grad rates are down and that some number of kids that earned a diploma, they've learned less than prior years," stated Professor Robert Balfanz of the Johns Hopkins School of Education and director of a research center focused on high school graduation. [tweet_embed] January 26, 2022[/tweet_embed] Falling graduation rates are attributed by some to remote learning. As classes moved online, some students fell behind or found assignments confusing. Less interaction with teachers and other students took their toll. Distractions like social media and television are also problematic for some students. According to the analysis, working part-time and caring for sick relatives during the pandemic were also factors contributing to lower graduation rates. Some are concerned that the cumulative effects of the pandemic stand to affect future graduating classes hardest. In both Oregon and Nevada, the share of high school freshmen who finished last school year on track to graduate was about 10 percentage points lower than before the pandemic. This school year, attendance has also been low. Still, some educators are optimistic last year's dip represents an anomaly, according to The Independent. In Peoria, Illinois, where the graduation rate fell 4 points after climbing steadily for years, Superintendent Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat thinks the district's expanded "safety net" for struggling students will help. [tweet_embed] January 26, 2022[/tweet_embed] Every week, a team of educators identifies students with failing grades for extra support. The district also offers ways for working students to earn credits in the evenings or on weekends and has hired three "navigators" to help students who are in the juvenile justice system to finish school. "It is not easy," Desmoulin-Kherat expressed. "It's definitely a marathon, not a sprint."