Minneapolis Public Schools sees higher graduation rates in 2022
Thursday marked the last day of classes for Minneapolis Public Schools. Hundreds of students have walked across the stage over the last week at graduation ceremonies.
“One of my favorite things to do is going to graduation,” said Interim Superintendent Rochelle Cox. “There is a moment there that you can see where something changes inside and they have just taken the next step into the future.”
She is encouraged more students are reaching that milestone. 77% of students graduated in four years in 2022, which is the first increase since the pandemic. It’s also a higher rate than in 2019 when 75% of students graduated.
“Our graduating class last year had not really spent a normal year in their high school for a couple of years,” said Cox. “To see our students succeed through that, persevere through really trying times and come out as graduates of MPS, we really couldn’t be prouder.”
She attributes the growth to the district’s focus on helping students recover and catch up on credits so they can graduate on time, investments in mental health support and graduation coaches. According to Cox, the graduation coaches program started in 2019 and offers culturally and language-specific support.
“People can come in and meet with them on a regular basis,” she said. “We’re seeing that as making a huge improvement in our graduation rates.”
The largest gains from 2021 to 2022 were among special education students, African American students, and students from Somali-speaking homes. Each saw a 4% increase in graduation rates.
There are still gaps. The graduation rate was 72% for Black or African American students, 61% for Hispanic or Latino students and 50% for American Indian students. White students had a graduation rate of 92% in 2022.
Cox said to address the disparities, the district is adding about 100 positions to work more directly with students.
“We have to double down on academics so this coming year we’re investing in what we call ‘intervention triads’ that will be providing small group instruction for students that are not making growth and are not proficient,” she said. “We will have staff members that will be in the building that will be able to pull students out or push into classrooms to provide that extra intervention that students need.”
She added, “We also need to work on all of our equity initiatives that we’re working on. We are looking at anti-bias, anti-racism practices within our district both at the system level and at the school level. I think as we address both of those, we’ll see those disparities and gaps closing.”