St. Cloud school officials work to raise graduation rates
The St. Cloud Area School District is working on different methods to increase graduation rates that are lower than the state average.
District officials said the data only tells one side of the story and there are many reasons why kids are not walking across the stage in four years.
The high school graduation rate dropped to 68% in 2022, which is 15% lower than the state average.
“The first thought that I have is always disappointment because the story that we want told about our students here in St. Cloud is they are successful and brilliant,” Laurie Putnam, St. Cloud Area School District superintendent, said.
Putnam said a lot of kids in the district are met with barriers that are keeping them in school longer.
“Their education was interrupted. Perhaps they were in refugee camps or they were making the trek from Central America to the United States,” Putnam said.
Apollo and Tech High Schools’ graduation rates have improved yearly since covid began.
But one of the schools in the district, McKinley Adult Learning Center, has the lowest graduation rate, sitting at 33% in 2022.
Students who attend the school are overcoming life challenges.
“They definitely have to be behind in credits. They could be students who are pregnant or mothers. They could be students who are living in poverty,” Putman said.
St. Cloud Area Schools is a part of a joint powers district meaning students who are struggling to meet credits across five other districts can enroll at McKinley.
Putnam said the district is dedicated to getting students across the finish line.
“We are expanding our credit recovery programming so that students can now recover some of their missed credits during the school day,” she said.
The district is also expanding Spanish, Somali and Chinese immersion programs to improve academic success.
“We really want to celebrate the fact that our students are going on to graduate. It just may take them longer than four years,” Putnam said.