High school graduation rates are at a record high for all Minnesota students; Mora and Ogilvie school districts are celebrating the highs as well.
In 2018, a record high of 83.2% of Minnesota seniors graduated. Mora High School maintained a graduation rate of 97% in 2018. When combined with students from the Mora Alternative Learning Center (45%), the Mora Public Schools district (ISD 332) had an overall graduation rate of 88%.
Ogilvie schools made a drastic leap from five years ago: graduation rates increased from 77% in 2014 up to 95% in 2018.
While that’s news worth celebrating, Mora Public Schools Superintendent Craig Schultz said there is more to education that graduation rates.
“The graduation rate is only one measure of a school’s success,” he said.
“From my perspective, the goal for all students is to become productive members of society. The graduation rate is a major indicator of how well education is valued by that society, or how well it is supported by the community, and more specifically the families attending. We are pleased our graduation rates exceed the state averages and I believe it is due to the value placed on high school success by our students, our hard working staff and the family support.”
Many school districts across the state have developed a variety of learning environments to meet the needs of different students.
Schultz said they work to provide students a variety of options.
“The students individual goals may vary from going to work in the trades, going on to post secondary education, or going in to the military. Which ever path they choose, we must provide options they see as valuable. We are pleased to provide vocational classes, college credit classes, consumer level classes, exploratory classes and even independent study classes for students who may want to go beyond what we have to offer,” he said.
State-approved alternative programs, like Mora’s Alternative Learning Center, also provide opportunities for students who have experienced or are experiencing difficulty in the traditional education system.
The Mora ALC serves students in the 10-12th grade from Mora and surrounding school districts. The ALC serves students who are qualified as at risk of not graduating. These students may face additional challenges in their lives such as homelessness, abuse, drug use, speak English as a second language, have been expelled from high school or perhaps are simply failing courses and have been recommended to attend the ALC.
In Minnesota, approximately 52,000 students in grades 8-12 are enrolled in a state-approved alternative program.
Districts across the state, including Mora and Ogilvie, offer Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) and Concurrent Enrollment; both let high school students take college courses while in high school and earn college credit.
Advanced Placement is similar by providing college-level courses and exams to high school students. Colleges grant credit or appropriate placement to students who scored a 3, 4 or 5 on the AP exam. According to a release from the Minnesota Department of Education, more than 60 percent of Minnesota students taking an AP course scored a 3, 4 or 5 on the AP exam in 2018.
Schultz said some of the biggest factors in educational success are how much the students value education, but also making sure those students feel supported.
“We are pleased to provide supports for all students at all levels to have the opportunity to be successful.”
As the district moves forward, Schultz said they need to be ready for change.
“Education, technology and society are evolving. As this happens at an ever increasing rate, we must do the same. By listening to the students, the families and the community, we must continue to meet the needs of all three by challenging all students to improve everyday.”
Accountability and Supports for Struggling High Schools
According to a release from the Minnesota Department of Education, graduation rates increased statewide for all racial/ethnic student groups this year, as well as for English learners, students receiving special education services, and students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals.
Over the past five years, black students—who increased 7.2 percentage points—saw the largest increase.
The U.S. Department of Education approved Minnesota’s state plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act in January 2018. In the plan, Minnesota set an ambitious goal that by 2020, 90 percent of Minnesota students will graduate in four years, and no single student group’s graduation rate will be below 85 percent.
This goal reflects the state’s strong commitment to equity and ensuring every Minnesota student receives a high school diploma, and is bolstered by the state’s plan to identify for support any public high school with a four-year graduation rate below 67 percent overall, or for any student group.