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District 196 graduation rate remains high, but gaps between groups persist

The four-year graduation rate for District 196 students as a whole declined just slightly in 2021 to 88.5%, which is 5.2% higher than the statewide rate, according to data released by the Minnesota Department of Education March 31.

Of the 2,257 District 196 seniors included in the 2021 graduation data, 1,997 (88.5%) graduated in four years, 0.3% lower than the district’s four-year rate of 88.8 percent in 2020. Statewide in 2021, the graduation rate for all students dropped 0.5% to 83.3%.

The Class of 2021 was the second to graduate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite multiple learning model shifts and pandemic disruptions during their senior year, the percentage of District 196 students graduating in 2021 increased for American Indian (+8.3%), Asian (+0.8%) and Hispanic (+4.7%) students, and students receiving English Learner (+3.0%) and special education (+4.1%) services. Persistent gaps remain among the groups, however, and graduation rates declined in 2021 for Black students (-1.6%) and students of two or more races (-5.5%).

The state goal by 2025 is for all school districts to have a graduation rate of at least 90% for all students and at least 85% for each group of students. In 2021, District 196 met the state goal for Asian and White students:

  • 75.0% of American Indian/Alaskan Native students graduated compared to 52.5% statewide;
  • 92.4% of Asian students graduated compared to 87.4% statewide;
  • 80.6% of Black students graduated compared to 70.4% statewide;
  • 78.1% of Hispanic students graduated compared to 69.3% statewide;
  • 91.6% of White students graduated compared to 88.3% statewide;
  • 78.9% of students who are of two or more races graduated compared to 74.6% statewide;
  • 73.2% of students receiving English Learner services graduated compared to 64.7% statewide;
  • 66.6% of students receiving special education services graduated compared to 64.0% statewide, and
  • 75.4% of students eligible for free or reduced-price school meals graduated compared to 70.3% statewide.
  • Rates for Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian students were not reported for District 196 because there were fewer than 10 students; statewide, this group’s graduation rate was 65.6%.

The state also released information on seven-year graduation rates. The seven-year rate for District 196 in 2021 was 94.5%, down just slightly from 2020 but 4% higher than the districts’ four-year rate of 90.5% three years earlier when some of these students could have first graduated. The 4% difference represents students who did not graduate in 2018 or later but did earn their high school diploma in 2021. Similarly, the seven-year graduation rate of 89% for special education students in 2021 is 21.4% higher than the 4-year graduation rate for special education students in 2018.