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GradMinnesota initiative sets goal of 90 percent high school graduation rate

March 13, 2013

Minnesota is named a GradNation state, joins national effort to boost student achievement
ST. PAUL, MN – Every 26 seconds in America, a student drops out of school. In Minnesota, 23 percent of students enrolled in our K-12 system do not graduate from high school in four years. A collaborative effort launched today in Minnesota will help put Minnesota on track to achieve a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020, giving our students the education and support they need to succeed in school and life.
The GradMinnesota initiative, co-chaired by Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon and Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, will connect our state to a nationwide movement focused on closing achievement gaps and raising graduation rates. As a GradNation state, Minnesota will join 4 other states committed to improving student achievement and empowering students to graduate from high school in four years.
“The success of our economy and the dreams of our students rely in large part on the investment we make in education, and the efforts we undertake to ensure every child has the opportunity and supports they need to graduate from high school,” said Lt. Governor Prettner Solon. “This new GradMinnesota initiative, combined with the governor’s proposed investments in education, will help empower students to succeed in school and life. That is progress worth fighting for.”
Minnesota is already making important progress toward improving its high school graduation rate through substantial gains in student achievement. Preliminary data released this week by the Minnesota Department of Education shows that over the last two years graduation rates have started to increase for every subgroup, with the greatest gains in the state’s Hispanic, African American, and Asian students.
From 2010 to 2012, Hispanic student graduation rates improved by over 5 percent; African American student graduation rates increased by 4.5 percent;  graduation rates among Asian students went up by 4 percent; and American Indian student graduation rates improved by more than one percent. Graduation rates also improved for students in poverty (3.5 percent), special education students (3.0 percent), and English Language learners (2.5 percent). This growth can be attributed to a renewed focus on supporting schools and investing in proven measures targeted to increase student achievement. The GradMinnesota initiative launched today seeks to build on that momentum.
“Today’s announcement is evidence that we are on track toward ensuring every student crosses the finish line and graduates well prepared for college, career and life,” said Commissioner Cassellius. “But this work is just beginning. If we are going to meet our goal of achieving a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020, we must continue investing in our schools and opening doors of opportunity for every child.”
New investments in education proposed in Governor Dayton’s budget will be critically important to achieving that objective. The governor’s budget makes strategic investments in education that will provide schools with the resources they need to close achievement gaps and increase graduation rates –including funding for English Language learning students, special education, integration aid, early childhood education, and all-day Kindergarten.
“To achieve a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020, it will take bold leadership, strong partnerships and a shared vision of success for all Minnesota's young people,” said Sarah Dixon, President and CEO of Minnesota’s Alliance for Youth. “No one group or person can do it alone, which is why I am so excited to enter into this innovative partnership.”
More Information about GradNation
GradNation is an effort of the America’s Promise Alliance founded by General Colin Powell. It is the nation’s largest partnership dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth. The GradNation initiative brings together more than 400 national organizations representing nonprofits, businesses, communities, educators and policymakers with a shared goal of helping American students graduate from high school.