Minnesota's graduation rate dipped slightly in 2021, but Black students see gains

30 March 2022

Minnesota’s high school graduation rate in dipped slightly in 2021, according to data released Wednesday by the state Department of Education. About 83% of seniors graduated on time last year, a half-percentage-point drop from 2020.

While nearly every student group posted a dip in the percentage of students graduating on-time in 2021, Black students registered a slight uptick of 1 percentage point to 70%. High school seniors who identify as two or more races also saw gains of about 1 percentage point to nearly 75%.

Latino students and those who are learning English as a second language posted the steepest drops of any demographic, as did students eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

State education officials say the latest data points to the difficulties students faced over the last year. Many struggled with distance learning, with some districts adjusting their grading policies in order to help pupils stay afloat.

The dip, state officials say, was driven in part by a slight uptick in the dropout rate, which rose to 4.05% from 3.73% the previous year.

The new data also show a decline in the four-year completion rate since 2019, the last year before the coronavirus pandemic upended the rhythms and motions of the typical school year.

In addition to the 57,000 students who graduated on-time in 2021, an additional 3,600 graduates earned their diplomas in the fifth, sixth or even seventh year after they started high school.

“The class of 2021 faced incredibly difficult circumstances in their final years of high school,” Minnesota State Education Commissioner Heather Mueller said in a release.

For years, the state’s four-year graduation rate had been ticking upward.

In 2016, 82.5% graduates finished within four years. The graduation rate topped out at 83.8% in 2020 and fell to 83.3% last spring.

Mueller used the latest statewide snapshot to push for Gov. Tim Walz’s proposed spending plan, which would add 2% to the state’s general education formula and cover the costs of obtaining a teaching license, among other things.

Mueller said Walz’s budget would “help provide the resources to ensure that every student is seen, valued, heard and represented throughout their educational experience and is supported all the way through high school graduation.”

“We will continue to work for our students and we need support from the legislature,” she said.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

This post was originally published on this site

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