Albert Lea High School, Learning Center grad rates increase

Published 9:00 am Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Albert Lea school district’s graduation rate has increased, according to Minnesota Department of Education data released Thursday.

Looking at both Albert Lea High School and Albert Lea Area Learning Center, nearly 76.5 percent of students graduated in 2016, an increase from 75.7 percent of students in the 2014-15 school year.

Nearly 87 percent of Albert Lea High School students and 34 percent of Albert Lea Area Learning Center students graduated.

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“We are pleased that our graduation rates for the district, high school and ALC are trending in the right direction,” said Superintendent Mike Funk.

Student graduation rates have mostly increased across the district since 2012 in Albert Lea:

2012: 67.2 percent

2013: 71.3 percent

2014: 76.6 percent

2015: 75.7 percent

2016: 76.4 percent

Funk congratulated Albert Lea Area Learning Center Principal Tonya Prouty and ALC staff for their effort in increasing the graduation rate from 23.8 percent to 34 percent.

“We expect our graduation rates to climb as our programming, such as the ninth-grade student academy, positively impacts student success in school,” he said. 

The academy provides more personalized instruction and guidance throughout the school day in English, social studies and science.

To improve graduation rates, officials have conducted after-school tutoring and busing, along with a credit recovery course. They have worked with truancy officers through Freeborn County to reduce truancy and improve school attendance.

Area student graduation rates in the 2015-16 school year have mainly improved from 2014-15:

Alden-Conger Public School District: 97.1 percent, an increase from 95.1 percent

Glenville-Emmons Schools: 89.5 percent, an increase from 60 percent

NRHEG School District: 95.3 percent, an increase from 91.9 percent

United South Central School District: 83.3 percent, a decrease from 86 percent

Local grad rate increases come as the state rate continues to increase. According to MDE, the class of 2016 posted the highest graduation rate on record at 82.2 percent. Rates for all students increased by 1/3 of one percent from 2015 and 5 percent from 2011.

“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.”

Graduation rates for non-white students increased by 13.1 percentage points, Cassellius said. Graduation rates for African-American students increased 24 percentage points — a 59 percent increase — since 2006.

“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,” Cassellius said. “We’re seeing that happen across the state, and we need to double down on efforts to help every student earn a diploma.”

Cassellius said the state is emphasizing increasing graduation rates for all students, including implementing a tool to provide a snapshot of students in grades six and nine who are at an increased risk of not completing high school in four years.

MDE has taken a number of steps to increase graduation rates by:

Launching a statewide campaign that sets a goal of reaching a 90 percent grad rate for all students by 2020, with every student group having a graduation rate of 85 percent.

Setting new accountability expectations for school district grad rates by including them separately in the state’s Multiple Measurement Ratings system.

Identifying Title I high schools with the lowest grad rates, and offering strategic support to increase the number of students who graduate.

Offering intervention to students with behavior problems through programs.

Providing meaningful support to struggling schools through the Regional Centers of Excellence.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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