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Rochester's graduation rate drops 13 points among Hispanic students, changes little among other groups

There was not a significant decrease in the Hispanic graduation rate statewide, which decreased slightly from 70.4% in 2020 to 69.3% in 2021.

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Century High School holds its 22nd Annual Commencement Ceremony in the high school gymnasium on June 5, 2021.
Post Bulletin file photo
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ROCHESTER — Rochester's four-year graduation rate for Hispanic students dropped more than 13 points between 2020 and 2021, while remaining relatively steady for other subgroups.

The Minnesota Department of Education released the graduation data Wednesday. A representative from Rochester Public Schools could not be immediately reached for comment.

In 2020, the four-year graduation rate for Hispanic students was 80.9%. That dropped to 67.6% in 2021, representing a 13.3-point decrease.

Meanwhile, many other groups remained within a percentage point or two when compared year over year. Among Asian students, the graduation rate increased from 89.5% in 2020 to 90.1% in 2021. The rate also increased slightly among Black students, going from 75% in 2020 to 75.7% in 2021.

The graduation rate dropped among white students, though not nearly as dramatically as their Hispanic counterparts. The white graduation rate went from 88.8% in 2020 to 87.8% in 2021.

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The overall graduation rate in the school district was 83.8%. That's slightly higher than the statewide rate of 83.3%, but represents a dip from the 85.6% rate reported a year earlier.

There was not a significant decrease in the Hispanic graduation rate statewide. It dropped slightly from 70.4% in 2020 to 69.3% in 2021.

Part of the reason for the larger swing among the Hispanic students' graduation rate could be because the number of students in the category is relatively small. The number of students in the 2021 Hispanic four-year graduation cohort was 145, of which 98 graduated. In 2020, the cohort consisted of 115 students, of which 93 graduated.

By comparison, the number of white students in the 2021 four-year graduation cohort was 877, and the number of Black students in their cohort was 214.

The drop in the Hispanic graduation rate was not universal among Rochester's three public high schools. At Century, it dropped from 66.7% in 2020 to 57.7% in 2021, representing a 9% decrease. At John Marshall, it dropped from 91.7% in 2020 to 82.8% in 2021, representing an 8.9% decrease. At Mayo High School, by contrast, it dropped from 95% in 2020 to 93.2% in 2021, a mere difference of 1.8%.

The Alternative Learning Center represented the largest swing. In 2020, the four-year graduation rate was 58.3%. The next year, that percentage fell to 28.2%, totaling a 30-point drop.

Even taking the smaller cohort size into account, the Hispanic graduation rate still reached its lowest point in at least the last five years. The earliest year available from the Minnesota Department of Education is 2017, when the four-year Hispanic graduation rate was 78.9%. 2021 represented the lowest graduation rate of every year since then.

Area Districts

The following represent the year-to-year graduation rates for each of the communities in the larger Rochester area.

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Byron Public Schools

  • 2020: 100%
  • 2021: 98.7%

Stewartville Public Schools

  • 2020: 90.4%
  • 2021: 92.3%

Pine Island Public Schools

  • 2020: 96.3%
  • 2021: 93.3%

Dover-Eyota Public Schools

  • 2020: 94.3%
  • 2021: 90.8%

Chatfield Public Schools

  • 2020: 89.2%
  • 2021: 98.3%

Plainview-Elgin-Millville

  • 2020: 96.7%
  • 2021: 97.6%
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Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or jshearer@postbulletin.com.
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