BY Paul Groessel
Sun POST Newspapers
Osseo Area Schools’ 2013 high school graduation rates were released last month. The district’s four-year graduation rate is slightly higher than the state average, and the district’s graduation rate over the last five years has increased by 3 percent.
The district’s four-year graduation rate for the class of 2013 was 81.8 percent, compared to the state average of 79.5 percent, according to the Minnesota Department of Education.
“I’m thrilled with the continual progress that we make,” said Supt. Kate Maguire. “It’s no easy task, because it means you’re really drilling down and looking at the needs of individual students.”
When broken down by high school, Maple Grove Senior High School’s four-year graduation rate was the highest, at 91.5 percent. Park Center Senior High School had a 80.9 percent graduation rate and Osseo Senior High School’s graduation rate was 81.3 percent.
The challenge comes in boosting graduation rates for particular student subgroups, Maguire said.
In general, graduation rates, test results, enrollment numbers and other data are organized by student subgroups, such as white students, black students or students who are enrolled in English as a Second Language or other programs. It’s one of the many ways that schools, and in turn the state and federal education departments that they report to, slice masses of data about school operations and student achievement.
As many other districts in the state, white students have had high graduation rates at Osseo Area Schools, Maguire said. The district has been working to improve graduation rates for the students who are not having as much success.
“As the results of the practices we’ve been implementing … over the last five years, we’re making gains now that are really paying off,” Maguire said.
For example, Don Pascoe, director of research, assessment and accountability, said the state focuses on four-year graduation rates, but some students graduate in five or six years, which may be more suitable for them.
“As a district, certainly we’re concerned about the four-year graduation rate, but what we really want is everyone to graduate,” Pascoe said.
Students who are enrolled in special education programs can stay enrolled until they are 21 years old, Pascoe said. The district’s programs help transition them from a school to work setting or other setting, he said.
Even though 50 percent of students who were enrolled in special education services graduated in four years, 43 percent of students returned to school the following year for programming that is designed for them, Pascoe said.
There are similar caveats for other students, too, he said.
Impacting graduation rates for individual students, in their unique circumstances, is something the district has worked for in the past five years, Maguire said.
“It’s exciting, but it’s really challenging,” she said.
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