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Back to School: State releases student progress report

The first "State of Our Students" report gives a snapshot of student progress in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS — As thousands of students prepare to head back into the classroom Tuesday following Labor Day, the Minnesota Department of Education has been charting their progress in an expansive, never-before-seen report. 

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"The State of Our Students," released ahead of the 2019-2020 school year, compiled a variety of data sets ranging from graduation rates, ACT participation, attendance numbers and classroom proficiency.

Some of the key positive findings:

  • Graduation rates in 2018 increased across-the-board to 83.2 percent - the highest recorded number in state history.
  • Black students have seen the biggest gains - with a 7.2 percent boost in graduation rates between 2014 and 2018. 
  • Native American and Hispanic students have doubled their ACT participation rates since 2014 - and black student participation is up 70 percent.

However, according to the report, the achievement gap in Minnesota is still very real. Some other numbers to note:

  • Four-year graduation rates for black students (67.4 percent), Hispanic students (66.8 percent) and American Indian students (51 percent) still lag behind the overall rate.
  • Compared to the overall test score achievement rate for reading (58.3 percent) and math (53.9 percent), those students again face the same achievement gap.
  • There's also a gap in attendance - with 57.6 percent of Native American and black students attending at least 90 percent of school days - almost thirty points below the average.

So what's being done to close the gap?

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The State Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker says — a lot: "Minnesota students face gaps in learning, housing, household income, health and more. That's why I'm committed to finding ways to serve the whole child, so all children have the support they need to succeed in the classroom."