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One-Quarter Of Minn. Schools Earn Low Marks In Annual Review

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The annual performance report card is out for Minnesota public schools, and it is raising some eyebrows.

The Minnesota Department of Education used a new system this year for evaluating how well schools are meeting the needs of students.

A quarter of all public schools in the state -- 458 schools -- received low marks in the North Start accountability review. They will now receive extra support to fix the problems.

Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius says the new accountability system looks at more than test scores. It also examines attendance, graduation rates and academic progress.

"What we've tried to do is really flip the equation so that teachers are getting the information they need, parents are getting the information they needed, and in multiple measures," Cassellius said.

WEB EXTRA: Angela Davis's Full Interviews With Brenda Cassellius, Ed Graff And Dr. Joe Gothard

Even though the overall graduation rate for Minnesota high schools is 82 percent, the report shows there are some groups of students who only have a 67 percent graduation rate, or lower.

"We are intervening with all of these high schools, not only for the overall rate, but also for every single student group," Cassellius said. "That's going to make a difference because more kids are counted and then more kids are going to be visible to the counselors, and they're going to make sure that they have what they need."

Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Ed Graff says it only takes one moment or one incident to derail a student's ability to graduate.

"That can be an unforeseen life experience, it could be a move, it could be, you know, a challenging class," Graff said. "So we're very cognizant that, you know, every single interaction we have with our students matters."

St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard says students drop out when they feel disconnected and lose interest in their coursework.

"When the engagement light dims, that's when students are most at-risk to drop out," Gothard said. "So we've got to be very attune to our students, their needs."

The report also recognizes 526 schools for excellence. The goal is to share what is working and replicate it across the state.

Click here to take a look at the performance of schools in your district.

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