Home Press Release Investing in educators is an important way to raise graduation rates

Investing in educators is an important way to raise graduation rates

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota. March 28, 2024 – An important way to improve graduation rates in Minnesota, such as those released Thursday, is to continue investing in the state’s educators, from their training through a dignified retirement, said Education Minnesota President Denise Specht. 

“Educators want every student to attend a school that prepares them to graduate and pursue their dreams, but the staffing crisis is a profound challenge right now,” Specht said. “As school districts struggle to recruit and retain educators, providing extra attention to the students who need it is extremely difficult. Stabilizing, diversifying and growing the educator workforce is a prerequisite for improving graduation rates and other academic outcomes for Minnesota students.” 

The Minnesota Department of Education released graduation data for the class of 2023 on Thursday. The 2023 graduation rate was 83.3%, which was essentially the same as the previous year when “unknown” student outcomes were considered. 

While there was a small, 0.3 percentage point, drop in the overall graduation rate, it can mostly be explained by a 0.4 percentage point increase in the number of students that districts reported incorrectly or did not report as enrolled elsewhere. 

The data released Thursday show little progress in closing the gaps in graduation rates between white students and students of color. The significant increase reported for Black students in 2022 did not carry forward to 2023, although the five-year trend remains positive. 

“The state Legislature, Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan made a historic investment in public education in 2023, with guaranteed inflationary increases and new money to hire more educators of color, provide additional mental health professionals, improve literacy and even feed hungry children,” Specht said. “Those are important investments in Minnesota students that will pay off in the future, even if they don’t affect the 2023 graduation data.” 

Education Minnesota continues to believe that graduation rates are a superior snapshot of academic progress than scores on standardized tests because graduation rates reflect more of the student’s experience in schools and have fewer issues with misleading and misunderstood results. 

About Education Minnesota
Education Minnesota is the voice for professional educators and students. Education Minnesota’s members include teachers and education support professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts, faculty members at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges and University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston, retired educators and student teachers. Education Minnesota is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.

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