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Racial, economic disparity in WAPS grad rates (02/24/2014)
By Sarah Squires

WAPS graduation rates     
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) released graduation rates for public school districts across the state last week, and the numbers show a nearly two percent increase in 2013 over 2012, with 79.48 percent of 2013 seniors ending the school year with a diploma.

For Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS), 2013 graduation rates decreased by one-half percent, with 79.9 percent having successfully completed high school. The MDE data shows that some WAPS subgroups have struggled to graduate when compared with their white peers from higher-income families: only 60 percent of WAPS black students graduated in 2013, 61.5 percent of students from low-income families completed high school, and 33 percent of seniors seeking alternative schooling at the Winona Area Learning Center received a diploma.

According to the MDE data, 64.8 percent of WAPS students receiving special education services graduated in 2013; 68.4 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander students finished with a diploma, as well. Because there were fewer than 10 students who identified themselves as Hispanic, English language learners, and American Indian/Alaskan native subgroups, the MDE did not report graduation rates for those groups. Scores for smaller groups of students are not released due to the potential that members of the public could identify individual students based on the figures.

Just over five percent of WAPS seniors dropped out of school in 2013, while 10.2 percent were reported to have stayed in school for a second senior year to seek a diploma. Just under five percent were listed as "unknown" meaning district officials are not certain whether the student dropped out or just left the district.

Many WAPS administrators were unavailable for comment on the data last week due to the severe winter weather. Typically administrators will review the data and present it to the School Board for discussion.

Other districts

Rushford-Peterson School District is graduating a higher percentage of its seniors than some districts in the region; 94.1 percent of total seniors in 2013 received a diploma, and 95.4 percent of students from low-income families graduated.

St. Charles Public Schools graduated 90 percent of its 2013 seniors, with 82.6 percent of students from low-income families making the grade.

Lewiston-Altura had 88.7 percent of its seniors graduate, with 82.6 percent of those from low-income families tossing their caps last June. In Wabasha, 84.5 percent of all seniors received a diploma, and 81.3 percent of students from low-income families did, as well.



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