Minnesota graduation rates inch higher after decline

Minnesota’s high school graduation rates return to pre-pandemic level

Minnesota's high school graduation rates return to pre-pandemic level

More Minnesota high school students are graduating on time following a drop amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data released Tuesday by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) shows that 83.6% of the state’s high school seniors in 2022 graduated within four years of starting high school. That number is up around 0.2% from 2021 and is just 0.1% shy of the 2019 level.

MDE says another 3,840 students from earlier classes also graduated last year.

While the rise in the state’s four-year graduation rate isn’t huge, other demographics saw more significant increases.

The data shows the rate for American Indian students reached 61.1% last year, a 2.5% increase, while it jumped 3.1% for Black students and 2.9% for students identifying as two or more races, moving those overall numbers to 73.5% and 79.2%, respectively.

MDE adds that the four-year graduation rate for those who receive special education services also exceeded pre-pandemic levels last year, reaching 65.6%.

“Our students, educators and school communities persevered through the challenges of the past few years, and their unwavering commitment to excellence resulted in improved graduation rates. We celebrate this significant milestone and also recognize that there is still much to be done,” MDE Commissioner Willie Jett said in a statement. “Working together, we will ensure that every student graduates from high school equipped with the tools and knowledge necessary for a successful future.”

The four-year graduation rates for Asian students (down 0.1% to 87.3%) and Hispanic/Latino students (down 0.2% to 69.3%) dropped slightly.

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In announcing the data release, the department also touted Gov. Tim Walz’s education budget proposal, which includes an increase in general education funding. That hasn’t yet been approved by state lawmakers.