ROSEVILLE, Minn. (Feb. 22, 2016) — Continuing a steady upward trend, more Minnesota students are graduating high school than ever before.
With over 54,200 graduates, the class of 2015 posted an 81.9 percent graduation rate, according to data released today by the Minnesota Department of Education. Data also show gap closure as graduation rates for students of color continue to rise.
“Graduating from high school is an important step in a student’s life, opening doors to higher education, a wider array of jobs, and better wages throughout their lifetime,” Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said. “Every percentage point, every increase, whether it’s a one decimal point or double digits, represents another student who is graduating high school prepared for their next step in life.”
While year-to-year gains from 2014 were modest, over the last five years the graduation rate for Minnesota students has risen 6.4 percentage points, up from 75.5 percent in 2010. That growth is even more notable when looking at the previous five years where the graduation rate saw a less than one percent increase from 2005 to 2010.
“Reaching our goal of a statewide graduation rate of 90 percent does not happen in one year,” said Cassellius. “It is important to look at trends over time, and since 2010 we have seen the number of students graduating high school increase steadily every year.”
With more students of color graduating across the board, Minnesota is seeing unprecedented gap closure between white students and students of color. Since 2010, Minnesota has closed the graduation gap by 12 percentage points.
Digging deeper into the data shows:
- American Indian students – 51.9 percent graduation rate, up 7.7 percent points since 2010
- Asian/Pacific Islander students – 82.7 percent graduation rate, up 12.7 percentage points since 2010
- Black students – 62 percent graduation rate, up 15.6 percentage points since 2010
- Hispanic students – 65.6 percent graduation rate, up 17.8 percentage points since 2010
With nearly every student group trending upward this year – including Special Education and students in poverty – only English Learners saw a slight decrease, but they too are up 14.3 percentage points since 2010.
“This growth reflects of the hard work and dedication of our teachers and students,” Cassellius said. “But while we celebrate this forward momentum, there is still work to do. As long as we see inequities, we must remain diligent, working each day to fulfill our promise that every student deserves the chance to succeed.”
Minnesota’s Efforts to Increase Graduation Rates
Over the past five years, Minnesota has placed an increased focus on raising graduation rates for all kids, in every student group. This includes:
- Implementing the Minnesota Early Indicator and Response System (MEIRS), a tool that is used to provide a snapshot of students in grade 6 and grade 9 who are at increased risk of not completing high school in four years. These students are then target for intervention.
- Launching GradMN, a statewide campaign that sets a goal of reaching a 90 percent graduation rate for all students by 2020, with every student group having a graduation rate of 85 percent.
- Setting new accountability expectations for school district graduation rates by including them in the state’s Multiple
- Measurement Ratings system, disaggregated by student group.
- Identifying Title I high schools with the lowest graduation rates, and offering strategic support to increase the number of students graduating.
- Offering intervention to students with behavioral problems through programs like PBIS. Early intervention helps keep students in the classroom and ensures they stay on track for graduation.
- Providing meaningful support to struggling schools through Minnesota’s nationally recognized Regional Centers of Excellence. Staff from the Regional Centers work with the state’s lowest performing schools to develop and implement strategic turnaround plans that will increase student achievement.
Visit the Minnesota Report Card, an easy to read, mobile-friendly site for important reports on Minnesota districts and schools.
“I congratulate Minnesota students, teachers, and parents for this continued improvement,” said Gov. Mark Dayton in a press release. “We should be encouraged by this progress, but we must continue our work to ensure all our students get quality educations and the support they need to graduate, and succeed in life.”
“Since 2010, we have cut the disparity between students of color and white students by 38 percent,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith in a press release. “Despite this progress, we must continue to support policies that increase opportunity, including expanded early learning options, improved access to home visiting programs, and additional counselors and mental health professionals in our high schools.”