District 196 graduation rates increase, gaps decrease for students of color

The overall graduation rate for students in Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District 196 high schools increased from 90 to 92 percent from 2015 to 2016 and the gap in graduation rates between white and non-white students decreased for all but one subgroup of students, according to data released by the Minnesota Department of Education Feb. 23.

Of the 2,058 District 196 seniors included in the state’s 2016 graduation data, 1,890 or 92 percent graduated, defined by the state as completing high school in four years. Of the students who did not graduate, 6 percent were continuing school and 2 percent had dropped out. The statewide graduation rate in 2016 was 82 percent, the same as 2015.

The state’s goal by 2020 is for school districts to have a graduation rate of at least 90 percent for all students and at least 85 percent for each subgroup of students. In 2016, District 196 met the state goal for all students and four of the eight subgroups, including Asian/Pacific Islander, white, black and Hispanic students. In District 196, the graduation rates for:

• American Indian/Alaskan Native students decreased from 80 percent in 2015 to 71 percent in 2016 (statewide 53 percent);

• Asian/Pacific Islander students increased from 90 to 95 percent (statewide 84 percent);

• Black students increased from 78 to 85 percent (statewide 65 percent);

• Hispanic students increased from 72 to 86 percent (statewide 65 percent);

• White students remained at 93 percent (statewide 87 percent);

• Students receiving English Learner services increased from 72 to 81 percent (statewide 63 percent);

• Students receiving special education services increased from 62 to 72 percent (statewide 61 percent), and

• Students receiving free or reduced-price school meals increased from 75 to 83 percent (statewide 68 percent).

The graduation gap for American Indian/Alaskan Native students in District 196 increased from 13 percent in 2015 to 22 percent in 2016 and the graduation rate of Asian/Pacific Islander students exceeded white students by 2 percent. The graduation gap between white students and all other subgroups of students in District 196 decreased last year:

• For black students, from 15 to 8 percent;

• For Hispanic students, from 21 to 7 percent;

• For students receiving English Learner services, from 21 to 12 percent;

• For students receiving special education services, from 31 to 21 percent, and

• For students receiving free or reduced-price school meals, from 18 to 10 percent.

After seeing graduation rates dip slightly from 2013 to 2015, early last school year Superintendent Jane K. Berenz asked the district’s high school administrators what they needed to be more intentional in identifying and supporting seniors who were at risk of not graduating on time, the district said in a press release.

The district provided the high schools with some additional funding to support their efforts, which included credit recovery courses during and after school and in some cases on Saturdays, and one-on-one tutoring and work completion support. Teachers were also encouraged to give grades of “incomplete” instead of Fs to give more time to students who were close to completing the required coursework.

“The focused and intentional efforts of our caring administrators and teachers paid off for many of these students who otherwise might not have graduated on time or at all,” Berenz said. “We are proud of the increases achieved last year among all groups of students and are continuing our targeted efforts this year with seniors and juniors who are at not on track to graduate in four years.”

Apple Valley High School has been providing an hour of support weekly for a group of 25 seniors who were at risk of not graduating when the school year began. By the time third trimester begins in mid-March, school leaders hope to have most, if not all of them on track to graduate this spring.

The graduation rate of male students in District 196 increased from 87 percent in 2015 to 89 percent in 2016, compared to 79 percent statewide, while the graduation rate of female students in District 196 increased from 93 to 95 percent, compared to 85 percent statewide.

The overall graduation rates for each of the district’s four, four-year high schools in 2016 were as follows: Apple Valley High, 93 percent; Eagan High, 96 percent; Eastview High, 97 percent, and Rosemount High, 92 percent.