Minnesota On Time Graduation Rates Improve Slightly

Roseville, MN – New data released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Education shows that the four-year high school graduation rate of Minnesotan students has increased slightly over the prior year.

MPR reports that 82.2 percent of all students graduated on-time in 2016, up 0.29 percent from the 2015 numbers.

The achievement gap between minority students and their white peers narrowed in this regard as well. All minority groups except Hispanic students saw a marked improvement in four-year graduation rates. Black students saw the largest improvement, with their rate increasing by three points to reach 65.1 percent.

The achievement gap is still very significant however. The four-year graduation rate for white students is 87 percent. Minority students as a whole were 19 points behind, at a 69 percent rate.

“Graduating high school is a crucial step in attaining the dream we all have for success in life,” Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said in a statement, “It is encouraging to see more Minnesota students– especially more of our students of color and American Indian students–reaching this milestone. It’s a promising step for stronger futures.”

Since 2011, the four-year graduation rate for all students has increased by five points. White students have seen that rate increase 3.2 points to reach the 87 percent mark. Native American students rate has increased 11.1 points to break the 50 percent mark. Black students have seen the biggest gain in the last five years, picking up 15.2 points to reach a 65.1 percent four-year graduation rate.

Minnesota’s improvement is below what it promised the Bush administration in the early 2000s. As part of the state’s successful proposal to get a waiver from the No Child Left Behind requirements, Minnesota set a goal of a 90 percent rate for four-year graduation for all students.

“In order to close gaps, we need to see all boats rising, but our students of color and American Indian students need to move faster,” Cassellius said, “We’re seeing that happen across the state, and we need to double down on efforts to help every student earn a diploma.”

Anders Koskinen