MINNEAPOLIS — The high school graduation rate for the Class of 2020 saw an increase according to new data from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE).
Statistics released on Thursday show that approximately 56,684 students (about 83.8%) received their high school diploma despite being faced with the challenges of moving to remote learning at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, MDE says that 3,490 students from earlier classes, or those who graduated more than four years after starting high school, also received their diploma in 2020. As a whole, data provided by the state shows that the four-year graduation rate has increased by 1.3% in the past five years, however, it was a smaller increase than the previous year.
“The class of 2020 graduated while we were all just learning how to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a time of great uncertainty, and the perseverance of our students, educators and families demonstrates their commitment to rise to this moment and reach the end of their pre-K through grade 12 journey,” said Commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller.
Despite graduation rates steadily increasing for students in most racial and ethnic groups, state education officials know that there is still work to be done in closing the gap so that each student has the best opportunity to learn in the classroom.
A deeper dive into the statistics shows that the graduation rate among African American students took a slight dip from 2019 to 2020, falling from 69.9% to 69.2%. Conversely, American Indian students saw a notable increase in graduation rates, up by nearly 5% in 2020.
Data from MDE also showed that fewer students were dropping out of high school. Compared to the previous year, the dropout rate decreased from 4.4% to 3.7%, a trend that continues from 2018 to 2019 among all student groups statewide.
“Seeing dropout rates continue to decrease is incredibly promising,” said Commissioner Mueller. “When our school communities rally around students to help them complete high school, we can make a real difference. Dropout prevention begins the moment students walk in the door of our elementary schools and continues until they make it to graduation. I am excited to continue working with school leaders to share effective practices in this critical area.”
Saint Paul Public School's graduation rates also made a similar jump in 2020, going up by 2 percentage points (up to 78.3%) compared to the previous year.
“We are proud of our students, teachers and schools; and while the overall rate increased to its highest rate in six years, there is still much work to be done to close the achievement gaps among our students,” said Dr. Joe Gothard, Superintendent of Saint Paul Public Schools.