ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Nearly 80 percent of Minnesota’s high school seniors graduated last year, the highest number in the last 10 years. That’s according to a report released Wednesday by the Minnesota Department of Education.
State education officials said Minnesota’s graduation rate went from 77.6 percent in 2012 to 79.5 percent last year. That figure is the state’s highest in a decade.
State Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said it’s good news for Minnesota, and they want that rate to get even higher. Cassellius said Minnesota could be on track to have a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020 if the rates keep improving.
Cassellius said she credits the rise in graduation numbers to a focus in closing the achievement gap between white students and students of color. She said the graduation rates in every group are going up. The report shows black students are making some of the greatest progress with a graduation rate increase of six percent from last year.
The graduation rate among students learning English also increased by 7.5 percent from last year. The report shows no individual group gained less than three percent in graduation numbers.
“Obviously if you have kids who are strongly educated, they’re great citizens, they’re contributors to the economy and to their communities,” Cassellius said. “We have some of the best volunteerism in Minnesota, and I think that when you have a well-rounded whole education, kids are graduating, have good jobs and can support their families I think that leads to a better Minnesota.
The graduation rate is accelerating faster than expected, and about 90 percent of graduating students surveyed said they’re pursuing higher education. State education officials said it’s something that helps all Minnesotans by creating a more educated workforce.
Cassellius said she also credits the waiver from the “No Child Left Behind Act,” which is an early indicator of student needs in grades six through nine, launched last year. Education officials said they hope to close the achievement gap even more by 2017.
Cassellius said one child not graduating is too many. While they may never get to a 100 percent graduation rate, they are aiming to get to 90 percent in the next six years.