Despite drop in state grad rates, APS shows numbers on the rise

Published 4:25 pm Thursday, March 28, 2024

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While it was recently reported that graduation rates in Minnesota have slipped in 2023, the reverse seems to be true in the Austin Public Schools district.

Minnesota Public Radio reported Thursday that the state’s four-year graduation rate for 2023 was 83.3%, down from 83.6% recorded in 2022. That data showed a particular decrease in rates for English learners and some students of color.

However, Austin High School’s four-year graduation rate showed a notable 3% rise over that time period, showing a positive rise despite the number still being below the state’s percentile.

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In a press release issued by the school Thursday afternoon, AHS Principal Matt Schmit said that Austin’s numbers indicate that programs that have been implemented within the district have shown to be working.

“We are encouraged to see our graduation percentage has increased,” Schmit said. “Over the past few years, we have worked to implement BARR, a multi-tiered system of support for students, the Packer Profile, additional mental health supports, and an early warning system for student performance. This increase in graduation rates is hopefully just the beginning of a period of sustained growth for our students.”

Broadening the scope, the numbers show a clearer picture of the district’s rising numbers.

When including students from across the district — AHS, Alternative Learning Center and the Austin Online Academy — numbers reflect a nearly 4% rise in graduation rates from 71.9% in the previous year to 75.5% last school year. 

Again across the district, African American students showed the largest jump of 17% (72.7% 2021-22 to 89.7% 2022-23). The next largest was English learners reflecting a 16.2% rise from 50% to 66.2%.

“Every classroom, every grade, every school in our district plays a crucial role in crafting our students’ success,” said Austin Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Joey Page. “This improvement is one of the strong indicators of our collective effort and commitment at every educational stage, ensuring that every student’s potential is recognized and nurtured.”

The only two decreases were among Asian students (-2.5%) and Special Education (-2.9%).