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Gains by minority students push Rochester's graduation rate to 85%

Gains by minority students push Rochester's graduation rate to 85%

Rochester's four-year graduation rate rose nearly four points in 2016, fueled by double-digit increases among minority students. 

The on-time graduation rate at Rochester Public Schools went from 81.7 percent in 2015 to 85.5 percent in 2016, according to numbers released Thursday morning by the Minnesota Department of Education. It marks the first time in five years that the district's graduation rate has hit the 85 percent mark.

“We are very pleased with the growth that we have made over the past year,” said Michael Munoz, superintendent of Rochester Public Schools. “We attribute some of this growth to providing more options for our students, such as Project Lead the Way, CTECH, College in the Schools; along with We Want You Back, We Want You To Stay, success coaches and success labs."

Rates among black and Hispanic students increased 11 and 15.5 points, respectively. However, both groups remain nearly 20 percentage points below white and Asian students. 

The achievement gap in Rochester is consistent with public school districts across the state. Despite improvement in recent years, students of color are still graduating at a 69 percent rate in Minnesota compared to 87 percent for white students.

"Graduating high school is a crucial step in attaining the dream we all have for success in life," Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said in a statement. "It is encouraging to see more Minnesota students -- especially more of our students of color and American Indian students -- reaching this milestone. It's a promising step for stronger futures."

Minnesota's overall graduation rate rose .3 points in 2016 to 82.2 percent in 2016. But as MPR News notes, the state still has a ways to go to reach its goal of 90-percent on-time graduation rate by 2020.

Related: From 'Dropout Crisis' To Record High, Dissecting The Graduation Rate ... via NPR News (2016)

Cover photo: File / Pixabay

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