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Minn. Graduation Rates Reach 'Historic' Levels; Achievement Gap Reduced

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesota's high school graduation rates have a mixed report card.

The good news is that more high school students than ever.

Related: Graduation Data Available On Minnesota Report Card

Nearly 56,000 graduated from Minnesota High Schools in 2018. That's an overall graduation rate of 83.2%.

But graduation rates are in a more troubling range for minority students, at 51 to 67%.

All students made gains across the board, with the biggest gains among some ethnic minorities. But overall, some of those ethnic groups were starting at such a low percentage that still trail far behind.

"We know there is more work to be done," said Minnesota Governor Tim Walz.

In a five-year period, African American students made the largest improvement, jumping from 60.2% to 67.4%. In the same period, Native Americans increased from 48.2% to 51%.

minnnesota graduation rates - 2018
(credit: MN Department of Education)

"No one should be happy with a 51% graduation rate for a group, but I think for us and for our budget that we put forward, we are funding and supporting things that we know work," said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan.

Walz's budget calls for $733 million in additional education spending. The state teachers union, Education Minnesota, released a similar message.

"It's past time for the state to increase its investment in the supports students need to succeed," said the union in a statement.
The Minnesota Department of Education is currently studying what has worked in high-achieving schools with high concentrations of minority groups.

"The first thing I say to families where a students is struggling to graduate is that we are not giving up on you, we are committed to finding pathways for you to get a high school diploma," said Minnesota Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker.

It was just last year that Minnesota set an ambitious goal of a 90% graduation rate for all students by the year 2020 -- a goal judging by these latest figures will be tough to meet that soon.

Of all groups, Asians have the highest graduation rate in Minnesota with 86.6% graduating.

Minnesota's graduation rate in 2017 was about in the middle for all U.S. states. That year, Iowa had the highest ranking with 91% of students graduating.


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