Albert Lea 4-year graduation rate improves almost 7% in 2022

Published 3:17 pm Wednesday, April 26, 2023

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The Minnesota Department of Education on Tuesday released the 2022 graduation rates, and it’s good news for Albert Lea Area Schools.

Among the high school, Area Learning Center and Online Academy combined, the four-year graduation rate improved over 6%, from just under 71% in 2021 to slightly above 78% last year.

The rate at the high school improved 1%, from over 85.6% to 86.6%. By comparison, the state’s graduate rate was slightly under 84%. The Online Academy’s four-year graduation rate was 100%, while the graduation rate at the Learning Center was almost 42%, up from 30.8% in 2021.

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Graduation numbers at the high school improved to 91.1% in six years. About 76.8% had graduated at the Learning Center in six years.

Black or African American students saw the biggest four-year graduation improvement at an almost 24% increase, while English learners also saw an almost 15% increase.

The district’s graduation rate is higher than the state average for Hispanic or Latino students, with a graduation rate of slightly under 72% in Albert Lea schools. The state’s average was just under 70%. The district’s English learner graduate rate was just below 79%, while the Minnesota average was 65%.

“We are pleased to see growth in our graduation rates, but also acknowledge that we still have more to do,” said Ron Wagner, superintendent of the district, in a press release. “Ensuring that each student is successful in their completion of high school will take our continued focus on individual plans and supports. We are committed to strengthening the opportunities for our students through strategies identified in our strategic planning process.”

Tonya Franks, executive director of academics and accountability, was particularly happy the number of students at the high school increased compared to 2021.

“That’s exciting to see that more students graduated in the 2022 school year than the 2021 school year,” she said.

She was also happy to see the graduation rates for Hispanic/Latino students and English language learners were above the state average.

“For us to know that two areas that we focus our energies on are higher than the state average [was good],” she said.

At the same time, she said the report helped to identify areas the district needed to improve for student success.

Asian student graduation fell by over 4%, from 90% last year to 85.7% in 2022. And while Franks admitted nothing surprised her, she was optimistic the new information would help district leaders identify areas that needed improvement.

The state indicated 228 students graduated from Albert Lea Area Schools in 2022.