New ISU study shows COVID-19 has positive effect on graduation rates

AMES, Iowa -- A new Iowa State University study shows business disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic helped boost high school completion rates.

"The more job loss that we see at the local level discouraging or preventing young people from working allowed them to focus on finishing high school" says ISU Economics Professor John Winters.

He says in the early weeks of the pandemic, job opportunities went away that could have prompted some high school students to drop out and work full time.

"The pandemic and the super-high unemployment rates in the spring--that really was not on the table for a lot of young people. They didn't have good job opportunities, so a lot of them stayed in school and finished up" Winters says.

He says his study runs counter to concerns that the switch to online learning would have reduced high school graduation rates.

Winters says they still don't know about the longer-run effects of COVID-19 and education.

He says if students learned less during the school closures, it may make them less prepared for college or the workforce down the road.

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