Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 23, 2017
CONTACT: Josh Collins, 651-582-8205,

Minnesota Graduation Rates Continue Upward Trend
as Gaps Continue to Close

ROSEVILLE, Minn. – Minnesota high school graduation rates continue to trend upward, with the class of 2016 posting the overall highest rate on record at 82.2 percent. Rates for all students were up one-third of a percentage point from 2015, and up 5 percentage points from 2011, showing that more Minnesota students are graduating from school.

“Graduating high school is a crucial step in attaining the dream we all have for success in life,” said Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. “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.”

A closer look at the data reveal notable trends across student groups. Since 2011, graduation rates for non-white students have increased by 13.1 percentage points. Rates for white students have increased by 3.2 points during that time.

Graduation rates for black students have increased 24 percentage points—a 59 percent increase—since 2006. In comparison to their white peers, this represents a 46 percent reduction in the graduation gap for black students over the last decade. Other student groups have also demonstrated significant increases since 2006 and 2011, shown in the table below.

“In order to close gaps, we need to see all boats rising, but our students of color and American Indian students need to move faster,” said Cassellius. “We’re seeing that happen across the state, and we need to double down on efforts to help every student earn a diploma.”

Minnesota’s American Indian students, often cited as having some of the lowest graduation rates in the nation, have increased by 10.1 percentage points since 2011—a 23.7 percent increase—after not budging over the previous five years.

“Over the last decade, and particularly in the last five years, Minnesota has seen an increase in graduation rates and a decrease in gaps. This has happened at the same time that we have shifted to more rigorous career- and college-ready standards, and added challenging courses to our graduation requirements. This is precisely the right path we need to stay on,” said Cassellius.

Student Group Data

Demographic Group

2006 Graduation Rate

2011 Graduation Rate

2016 Graduation Rate

All students




American Indian




Asian/Pacific Islander




















Special Education




English Learner




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Minnesota’s Efforts to Increase Graduation Rates

Over the past six years, Minnesota has placed an increased focus on raising graduation rates for all kids, in every student group. This includes:

· Implementing the Minnesota Early Indicator and Response System (MEIRS), a tool that is used to provide a snapshot of students in grades six and nine who are at increased risk of not completing high school in four years. These students are then targeted for intervention.
· Launching GradMN, a statewide campaign that sets a goal of reaching a 90 percent graduation rate for all students by 2020, with every student group having a graduation rate of 85 percent.
· Setting new accountability expectations for school district graduation rates by including them in the state’s Multiple Measurement Ratings system, disaggregated by student group.
· Identifying Title I high schools with the lowest graduation rates, and offering strategic support to increase the number of students graduating.
· Offering intervention to students with behavioral problems through programs like PBIS. Early intervention helps keep students in the classroom and ensures they stay on track for graduation.
· Providing meaningful support to struggling schools through Minnesota’s nationally recognized Regional Centers of Excellence. Staff from the Regional Centers work with the state’s lowest performing schools to develop and implement strategic turnaround plans that will increase student achievement.

Graduation data are available on the Minnesota Report Card, presented in an easy-to-read, mobile-friendly layout that includes charts and graphs illustrating trends and results for all student groups.

View the complete statewide, district, school and county graduation rates in an Excel spreadsheet by visiting our Data Center. Under category, choose "Graduation Rate" to access graduation indicator files for each year.