clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Tennessee high school graduation rate dips for first time since 2013

Haywood County (Tenn.) High School graduates the Class of 2020 during a socially distanced ceremony at its football field on June 13.
Courtesy of Chris McCain

Tennessee’s steady march to lift its graduation rate has taken a step backwards for the first time since 2013, even as the state relaxed requirements for the Class of 2020 to receive their diplomas during the coronavirus pandemic.

Data released this week by the state education department showed about 89.6% of public high school seniors earned their diplomas within four years. That’s down by just one-tenth of a percentage point from the record-high rate set by the Class of 2019. Still, the dip is noteworthy because of the state’s steady climb by almost 4 percentage points in the last decade.

The data is among the first measurable academic information published in Tennessee since COVID-19 disrupted schooling statewide. (Find our school-by-school list at the bottom.)

Many observers were surprised by any decline. The academic year was only a few months from completion when the pandemic hit. The state Board of Education also sought to accommodate this year’s graduating seniors by reducing the number of required credits from 22 to 20 and holding them harmless if they did not get to take the required ACT or SAT college entrance exams.

“Any time you go backwards, I’m concerned,” said JC Bowman, executive director of Professional Educators of Tennessee. “I’m especially concerned about the widening gap between white and Black students. We need to take a hard look at cause and effect and what we can do to stem that regression.”

Among the Class of 2020, white students raised their graduation rate by a half percentage point to 93.2%, while the rate for Black students fell by the same amount to 83%. The rate for Hispanic students decreased by 1.7% to 82.4%.

And for students learning the English language, the percentage of graduating seniors slid by more than 3 percentage points to 68.6%.

David Mansouri, president and CEO of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, called the pattern “very troubling.”

“[This] raises questions about how well students from historically underserved groups were doing last spring while Tennessee schools were closed for weeks,” Mansouri said on Tuesday. “The lack of support from in-person schooling may well have contributed to the lowered graduation rates for English learners, Hispanic students, and Black students.”

That reasoning was echoed on Wednesday in a statement issued by the education department.

“Each year, there is a critical time period from around March through August when schools provide supports to students to help them complete credits and finish up graduation requirements,” the statement said. “This year, in those critical months, there were significant COVID-19 disruptions that may have impacted how students received essential supports, just like they may have impacted the dip in post-secondary enrollment.”

The downward trend is reflected in the latest graduation data from three of the state’s four largest school systems.

Shelby County Schools had the largest downturn, going from 79.3% to 77.7%. Declines were much smaller in Metropolitan Nashville (down .1% to 82.3%) and Knox County (down .2% to 91%). Only Hamilton County saw its graduation rise slightly to 87%, marking a fourth straight year of increases in the Chattanooga area.

Education officials in Memphis said the decline by the state’s largest district mirrors statewide trends, and that the data won’t be used in school or district evaluations this year. They also noted that seven of Shelby County Schools’ 28 district-run high schools improved their graduation rates, while three others had 95% or more of their seniors graduate on time.

Tennessee has pushed to get more students graduated from both high school and a postsecondary school. In 2013, former Gov. Bill Haslam launched a “Drive to 55” initiative to get 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a college degree or certificate by the year 2025. His successor, Gov. Bill Lee, has emphasized equipping more students with vocational and technical skills.

Below, find your high school’s graduation rate in our searchable, sortable list.

Graduation rates for the 2019-20 school year

School Graduation Rate
School Graduation Rate
Samuel Everett School of Innovation (Blount County)*
Bradley County Virtual School (Bradley County)*
Huntingdon High School (Huntingdon Special School District)*
Clarksburg School (South Carroll)*
West Carroll Junior/Senior High School (West Carroll Sp Dist)*
Cumberland Gap High School (Claiborne County)*
Nashville Big Picture High School (Davidson County)*
Harris-Hillman Special Education (Davidson County)*
Hume - Fogg High (Davidson County)*
Middle College High (Davidson County)*
Martin Luther King Jr School (Davidson County)*
The Cohn Learning Center (Davidson County)*
Washburn School (Grainger County)*
Chatt High Center For Creative Arts (Hamilton County)*
Chattanooga School For Arts And Sciences Upper (Hamilton County)*
Hamilton County Collegiate High at Chattanooga State (Hamilton County)*
STEM School Chattanooga (Hamilton County)*
Ivy Academy Inc. (Hamilton County)*
Clinch School (Hawkins County)*
L N STEM Academy (Knox County)*
Fayetteville High School (Fayetteville)*
Jackson Central-Merry Early College High (Madison County)*
Madison Academic Magnet High School (Madison County)*
Meigs County High School (Meigs County)*
Middle College @ Austin Peay State University (Montgomery County)*
Central High School (Morgan County)*
Coalfield School (Morgan County)*
Morgan County Career and Technical Center (Morgan County)*
Oakdale School (Morgan County)*
Pickett Co High School (Pickett County)*
Central Magnet School (Rutherford County)*
Gatlinburg Pittman High (Sevier County)*
Middle College High (Shelby County)*
DuBois High of Leadership Public Policy (Shelby County)*
Memphis School of Excellence (Shelby County)*
Merrol Hyde Magnet School (Sumner County)*
E B Wilson (Sumner County)*
Westmoreland High School (Sumner County)*
Sumner County Middle College High School (Sumner County)*
University School (Washington County)*
Frank Hughes School (Wayne County)*
Greenfield School (Weakley County)*
Renaissance High School (Williamson County)*
Barry Tatum Academy (Wilson County)*
GRAD Academy Memphis (Achievement School District)*
Pathways in Education - Whitehaven (Achievement School District)*
Clinch River Community School (Anderson County)*
Maryville Junior High School (Maryville)*
F.I. Denning Center of Technology and Careers (Cleveland)*
Jacksboro Middle School (Campbell County)*
Carroll Co Tech Center (Carroll County)*
Keenburg Elementary (Carter County)*
Riverside Academy (Cheatham County)*
Coffee County Raider Academy (Coffee County)*
Dodson Elementary (Davidson County)*
Transitions at Bass (Davidson County)*
LEAD Southeast (Davidson County)*
New Directions Academy (Dickson County)*
Dickson Middle School (Dickson County)*
Milan Middle School (Milan)*
Greeneville Middle School (Greeneville)*
Greeneville/Greene Co Center For Technology (Greeneville)*
Hamilton County High School (Hamilton County)*
Hamilton County Virtual School (Hamilton County)*
Bolivar Middle School (Hardeman County Schools)*
Lexington Middle School (Lexington)*
E. W. Grove School (Henry County)*
McEwen Jr. High School (Humphreys County)*
Waverly Jr High School (Humphreys County)*
Gibbs Elementary (Knox County)*
Karns Middle School (Knox County)*
Ridgedale Alternative School (Knox County)*
Ft Sanders Education Development Center (Knox County)*
Ingram Sowell Elementary (Lawrence County)*
Lincoln County Ninth Grade Academy (Lincoln County)*
Lincoln Central Academy (Lincoln County)*
Marion Virtual High School (Marion County)*
Meigs Middle School (Meigs County)*
Perry County Virtual School (Perry County)*
VITAL: Upper Cumberland e-Learning Network (Putnam County)*
Rockvale Middle School (Rutherford County)*
Northview Junior Academy (Sevier County)*
Highland Oaks Elementary (Shelby County)*
Avon School (Shelby County)*
Carver High School (Shelby County)*
Hamilton Middle (Shelby County)*
Hickory Ridge Middle (Shelby County)*
Hamilton Middle (Shelby County)*
Northside High School (Shelby County)*
Richland Elementary (Shelby County)*
Sherwood Middle (Shelby County)*
Shrine School (Shelby County)*
Exceptional Children Special Placements (Shelby County)*
Treadwell Middle School (Shelby County)*
Westside Elementary (Shelby County)*
White Station Middle (Shelby County)*
DuBois High School of Arts Technology (Shelby County)*
The Excel Center (Shelby County)*
Gateway University (Shelby County)*
Bartlett 9th Grade Academy (Bartlett)*
Sumner County Middle Technical College High School at Portla (Sumner County)*
Tennessee Virtual High School (Union County)*
Tennessee Virtual Learning Academy (Washington County)*
Martin Middle School (Weakley County)*
West Wilson Middle School (Wilson County)*
West Tennessee School For Deaf (West Tennessee School for the Deaf)*
Gateway to Independence (Department of Children's Services)*
Bluff City High School (Tennessee State Board of Education)*
McKenzie High School (McKenzie) 98.9
Huntland School (Franklin County) 98.9
Walker Valley High School (Bradley County) 98.8
Richland School (Giles County) 98.8
Harriman High School (Roane County) 98.8
Roane County High School (Roane County) 98.7
Rossview High (Montgomery County) 98.6
Perry County High School (Perry County) 98.6
Clay County High School (Clay County) 98.5
Career Magnet Academy (Knox County) 98.5
Clarkrange High School (Fentress County) 98.4
Cascade High School (Bedford County) 98.3
East Nashville Magnet High School (Davidson County) 98.3
Greenback School (Loudon County) 98.3
Moore County High School (Moore County) 98.2
Siegel High School (Rutherford County) 98.2
Brentwood High School (Williamson County) 98.2
Alcoa High School (Alcoa) 98.1
Sullivan South High School (Sullivan County) 98.1
Signal Mountain Middle/High School (Hamilton County) 98
Copper Basin High School (Polk County) 98
Oneida High School (Oneida) 98
Mt. Juliet High School (Wilson County) 98
Peabody High School (Trenton) 97.9
Henry Co High School (Henry County) 97.9
Ripley High School (Lauderdale County) 97.9
Cosby High School (Cocke County) 97.8
Milan High School (Milan) 97.8
Memphis Academy Of Science Engineering Middle/High (Shelby County) 97.8
Power Center Academy High School (Shelby County) 97.8
Stewart Co High School (Stewart County) 97.8
Ravenwood High School (Williamson County) 97.8
Farragut High School (Knox County) 97.6
Station Camp High School (Sumner County) 97.6
Trousdale Co High School (Trousdale County) 97.6
Wilson Central High School (Wilson County) 97.6
Lexington High School (Henderson County) 97.5
Forrest School (Marshall County) 97.5
Eagleville School (Rutherford County) 97.5
Daniel Boone High School (Washington County) 97.5
Dyer County High School (Dyer County) 97.4
Mc Ewen High School (Humphreys County) 97.4
Tennessee Online Public School (Bristol) 97.4
Scotts Hill High School (Henderson County) 97.3
Germantown High (Shelby County) 97.3
Anderson County High School (Anderson County) 97.2
Camden Central High School (Benton County) 97.2
Rockwood High School (Roane County) 97.2
Compass Community School Midtown Campus (Shelby County) 97.2
Summit High School (Williamson County) 97.1
East Robertson High School (Robertson County) 97
South Greene High School (Greene County) 96.9
Volunteer High School (Hawkins County) 96.9
Central High School (McMinn County) 96.9
Fred J Page High School (Williamson County) 96.9
South Gibson County High School (Gibson Co Sp Dist) 96.8
Sunbright School (Morgan County) 96.8
Holloway High School (Rutherford County) 96.8
Riverdale High School (Rutherford County) 96.8
Northview Senior Academy (Sevier County) 96.8
Oliver Springs High School (Roane County) 96.7
Stewarts Creek High School (Rutherford County) 96.7
Soulsville Charter School (Shelby County) 96.7
Nolensville High School (Williamson County) 96.7
Riverside High School (Decatur County) 96.6
Jo Byrns High School (Robertson County) 96.6
Hickman Co Sr High School (Hickman County) 96.5
Carter High School (Knox County) 96.5
Adamsville High School (McNairy County) 96.5
White House Heritage High School (Robertson County) 96.4
Dyersburg High School (Dyersburg) 96.3
Tellico Plains High School (Monroe County) 96.3
Collierville High School (Collierville) 96.3
Gleason School (Weakley County) 96.3
Franklin High School (Williamson County) 96.3
Watertown High School (Wilson County) 96.3
Maryville High School (Maryville) 96.2
Greeneville High School (Greeneville) 96.2
Johnson Co High School (Johnson County) 96.2
Loudon High School (Loudon County) 96.2
Chester County High School (Chester County) 96.1
Bartlett High School (Bartlett) 96.1
STEM Prep High School (Davidson County) 96
Hardin Valley Academy (Knox County) 96
Loretto High School (Lawrence County) 96
North Greene High School (Greene County) 95.9
Morristown East High (Hamblen County) 95.9
Jefferson Co High School (Jefferson County) 95.9
Cornersville School (Marshall County) 95.9
Munford High School (Tipton County) 95.9
Union County High School (Union County) 95.9
Crockett County High School (Crockett County) 95.8
Clarksville High (Montgomery County) 95.8
Smyrna High School (Rutherford County) 95.8
Community High School (Bedford County) 95.7
Creek Wood High School (Dickson County) 95.7
Summertown High School (Lawrence County) 95.7
Lincoln County High School (Lincoln County) 95.6
Brighton High School (Tipton County) 95.6
Dickson County High School (Dickson County) 95.5
Hollis F. Price Middle College (Shelby County) 95.5
Freedom Preparatory Academy (Shelby County) 95.5
Collinwood High School (Wayne County) 95.5
Lawrence Co High School (Lawrence County) 95.4
McNairy Central High School (McNairy County) 95.4
Cherokee High School (Hawkins County) 95.3
Sullivan Central High School (Sullivan County) 95.3
Warren County High School (Warren County) 95.3
Central High School (Hollow Rock - Bruceton) 95.1
Blackman High School (Rutherford County) 95.1
Dresden High School (Weakley County) 95.1
Campbell County Comprehensive High School (Campbell County) 94.9
Monterey High School (Putnam County) 94.9
Arlington High (Arlington) 94.9
Gordonsville High School (Smith County) 94.9
Beech Sr High School (Sumner County) 94.9
Gallatin Senior High School (Sumner County) 94.9
Hendersonville High School (Sumner County) 94.9
David Crockett High School (Washington County) 94.9
West Greene High School (Greene County) 94.8
Waverly Central High School (Humphreys County) 94.8
Van Buren Co High School (Van Buren County) 94.8
Sweetwater High School (Monroe County) 94.7
Springfield High School (Robertson County) 94.7
Scott High School (Scott County) 94.7
Pigeon Forge High School (Sevier County) 94.7
Independence High School (Williamson County) 94.7
Lookout Valley Middle / High School (Hamilton County) 94.6
Halls High School (Knox County) 94.6
Houston High School (Germantown) 94.6
Covington High School (Tipton County) 94.6
Lebanon High School (Wilson County) 94.5
Big Sandy School (Benton County) 94.4
Chuckey Doak High School (Greene County) 94.4
Seymour High School (Sevier County) 94.3
Dobyns - Bennett High School (Kingsport) 94.3
Heritage High School (Blount County) 94.2
Nashville School Of The Arts (Davidson County) 94.2
Giles Co High School (Giles County) 94.2
Sullivan North High School (Sullivan County) 94.2
White County High School (White County) 94.2
Claiborne High School (Claiborne County) 94.1
Morristown West High (Hamblen County) 94.1
Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy (Hamilton County) 94.1
Gibbs High School (Knox County) 94.1
Cannon County High School (Cannon County) 94
Powell High School (Knox County) 94
Montgomery Central High (Montgomery County) 94
KIPP Memphis Collegiate High School (Shelby County) 94
William Blount High School (Blount County) 93.8
Bradford High School (Bradford) 93.8
Houston Co High School (Houston County) 93.8
West Creek High (Montgomery County) 93.8
Sequatchie Co High School (Sequatchie County) 93.8
Stone Memorial High School (Cumberland County) 93.7
Oakland High School (Rutherford County) 93.7
Portland High School (Sumner County) 93.7
Unicoi Co High School (Unicoi County) 93.7
Unaka High School (Carter County) 93.6
Cumberland County High School (Cumberland County) 93.6
Midway High School (Roane County) 93.6
Clinton High School (Anderson County) 93.5
Karns High School (Knox County) 93.5
Polk County High School (Polk County) 93.5
Sevier County High School (Sevier County) 93.5
Centennial High School (Williamson County) 93.5
Cheatham Co Central (Cheatham County) 93.4
Sycamore High School (Cheatham County) 93.4
City University School Of Liberal Arts (Shelby County) 93.4
Coffee County Central High School (Coffee County) 93.3
Lead Academy (Davidson County) 93.3
Gibson County High School (Gibson Co Sp Dist) 93.3
Hancock High School (Hancock County) 93.3
Northeast High (Montgomery County) 93.3
Culleoka Unit School (Maury County) 93.2
North Cleveland GOAL Academy (Bradley County) 93.1
Tullahoma High School (Tullahoma) 93.1
Franklin Co High School (Franklin County) 93.1
Grainger High School (Grainger County) 93.1
Grundy County High School (Grundy County) 93.1
Tennessee High School (Bristol) 93.1
Bledsoe County High School (Bledsoe County) 93
Spring Hill High School (Maury County) 92.9
White House High School (Sumner County) 92.9
Alvin C. York Institute (Alvin C York Institute) 92.9
Hampton High School (Carter County) 92.7
Tyner Academy (Hamilton County) 92.7
Hampshire Unit School (Maury County) 92.6
Oak Ridge High School (Oak Ridge) 92.5
South Pittsburg High School (Marion County) 92.5
Sale Creek Middle / High School (Hamilton County) 92.4
Sequoyah High School (Monroe County) 92.4
Obion County Central High School (Obion County) 92.4
Red Boiling Springs School (Macon County) 92.3
Union City High School (Union City) 92.3
Sullivan East High School (Sullivan County) 92.2
Lenoir City High School (Lenoir City) 92
Northwest High (Montgomery County) 92
Knowledge Academies High School (Davidson County) 91.9
De Kalb County High School (DeKalb County) 91.9
Marshall Co High School (Marshall County) 91.9
Cocke Co High School (Cocke County) 91.8
Hardin County High School (Hardin County) 91.8
Upperman High School (Putnam County) 91.8
Smith County High School (Smith County) 91.8
Science Hill High School (Johnson City) 91.8
Bradley Central High School (Bradley County) 91.6
Lavergne High School (Rutherford County) 91.6
Elizabethton High School (Elizabethton) 91.5
Harpeth High School (Cheatham County) 91.4
Lewis Co High School (Lewis County) 91.3
Santa Fe Unit School (Maury County) 91.3
West High School (Knox County) 91.2
Kenwood High (Montgomery County) 91.1
Halls High School (Lauderdale County) 91
Westview High School (Weakley County) 91
Wayne County High School (Wayne County) 90.8
Middleton High School (Hardeman County Schools) 90.7
East Hickman High School (Hickman County) 90.7
South Fulton Middle / High School (Obion County) 90.7
Cloudland High School (Carter County) 90.6
Livingston Academy (Overton County) 90.6
Haywood High School (Haywood County) 90.5
Bearden High School (Knox County) 90.4
South Side High School (Madison County) 90.4
Fayette Ware Comprehensive High School (Fayette County Public Schools) 90.3
Greenbrier High School (Robertson County) 90.3
RePublic High School (Davidson County) 90.1
Soddy Daisy High School (Hamilton County) 90
Cookeville High School (Putnam County) 89.9
Hillsboro High (Davidson County) 89.6
East Hamilton School (Hamilton County) 89.5
Marion Co High School (Marion County) 89.3
Rhea County High School (Rhea County) 89.2
Shelbyville Central High School (Bedford County) 88.6
Cleveland High (Cleveland) 88.4
Fairview High School (Williamson County) 88.4
The Academy at Hickory Hollow (Davidson County) 87.8
Ooltewah High School (Hamilton County) 87.8
The Academy at Opry Mills (Davidson County) 87.7
East Ridge High School (Hamilton County) 87.6
North Side High School (Madison County) 87.6
Whitwell High School (Marion County) 87.6
Whitehaven High (Shelby County) 87.4
Macon County High School (Macon County) 87.3
Millington Central High School (Millington Municipal Schools) 87.3
Southwind High (Shelby County) 86.9
White Station High (Shelby County) 86.8
Columbia Central High School (Maury County) 86.7
Rockvale High School (Rutherford County) 86.4
B. T. Washington High (Shelby County) 86.4
Central High School (Hardeman County Schools) 86.2
South Doyle High School (Knox County) 86.1
Lake Co High School (Lake County) 86
Bolton High (Shelby County) 86
McMinn High School (McMinn County) 85.9
Hillwood High (Davidson County) 85.7
Sequoyah High School (Hamilton County) 85.7
Memphis Academy of Health Sciences High School (Shelby County) 85.7
Cordova High School (Shelby County) 85.3
Memphis Business Academy High School (Shelby County) 85.3
KIPP Nashville Collegiate High School (Davidson County) 85.1
MNPS Virtual School (Davidson County) 85
Central High School (Hamilton County) 84.3
Tennessee Connections Academy 9-12 (Robertson County) 84.3
Robertson Co. Virtual School (Robertson County) 84.2
East High (Shelby County) 84.1
Cane Ridge High School (Davidson County) 83.5
Hixson High School (Hamilton County) 83.5
Mt Pleasant High School (Maury County) 83.2
Ridgeway High (Shelby County) 83.1
The Phoenix School (Cumberland County) 82.8
Humboldt Junior/Senior High School (Humboldt City Schools) 82.7
Central High School (Knox County) 82.6
Jackson County High School (Jackson County) 81.4
Central High (Shelby County) 81.4
Antioch High School (Davidson County) 81.1
Grainger Academy (Grainger County) 81
Robertson County Alternative Learning Center (Robertson County) 81
Happy Valley High School (Carter County) 80.9
Red Bank High School (Hamilton County) 80.8
Richard Hardy Memorial School (Richard City) 80.8
Stratford STEM Magnet School (Davidson County) 80.5
Fulton High School (Knox County) 80.3
Hunters Lane High (Davidson County) 80.1
John Overton High (Davidson County) 80.1
McGavock High (Davidson County) 79.6
Mitchell High (Shelby County) 79.6
Dr. Paul L. Kelley Volunteer Academy (Knox County) 79
Douglass High (Shelby County) 78.9
Liberty Technology Magnet High School (Madison County) 78.8
Austin East High/Magnet (Knox County) 78.2
Jellico High School (Campbell County) 77.9
Whites Creek High (Davidson County) 77.7
Fairley High School (Achievement School District) 77.6
Kirby High (Shelby County) 77
Pearl-Cohn High (Davidson County) 76
Westwood High (Shelby County) 76
Overton High (Shelby County) 75.9
The Academy at Old Cockrill (Davidson County) 75.6
Craigmont High (Shelby County) 75.3
Midtown Educational Center (Roane County) 74.5
The Howard School (Hamilton County) 72.9
Oakhaven High (Shelby County) 72.7
Raleigh-Egypt High (Shelby County) 72.3
Brainerd High School (Hamilton County) 71.9
Maplewood High (Davidson County) 69.2
Melrose High (Shelby County) 67.4
Wooddale High (Shelby County) 65.8
Kingsbury High (Shelby County) 65.5
Manassas High (Shelby County) 65.2
Martin Luther King Preparatory High School (Achievement School District) 64
Glencliff High School (Davidson County) 62.8
Trezevant High (Shelby County) 62.8
Gary Hardin Academy (Sevier County) 62.5
Northwest Prep Academy (Shelby County) 61.5
Hillcrest High School (Achievement School District) 61.3
Hamilton High (Shelby County) 61.2
Sheffield High (Shelby County) 48.5
Memphis Virtual School (Shelby County) 47
Cora Howe School (Davidson County) 42.9
Tennessee School for the Deaf Upper School (Tennessee School for the Deaf) 40
Wilder Youth Development Center (Department of Children's Services) 18.2
Tenn School For Blind (Tennessee School for Blind) 15.8
Knox Adaptive Education Center (Knox County) 12.5
DCS Affiliated Schools (Department of Children's Services) 10.8
Pathways in Education - TN (Achievement School District) 6.5
Carver College and Career Academy (Shelby County) 5.9
*Schools with an asterisk have suppressed data for privacy reasons

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a statement from the Tennessee Department of Education.

The COVID-19 outbreak is changing our daily reality

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to providing the information families and educators need, but this kind of work isn't possible without your help.

Connect with your community

Find upcoming Tennessee events