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Minneapolis' low graduation rate, plus other 'sobering' findings from a new report

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Minneapolis had the lowest graduation rate when compared to 49 other cities across the nation, according to a new report, which paints a "sobering" picture of urban education in the United States.

The report, released Wednesday by the Center on Reinventing Public Education, found Minneapolis students – in both public and charter schools – had a four-year graduation rate of 46.61 percent in 2013.

That's significantly lower than the national average of 75 percent.

Students in St. Paul were closer to the average, but still fell short – 66.49 percent graduated in four years, the report shows.

The Minnesota Department of Education's website shows students at public schools (remember, the CPRE report includes charter schools, not just public) in the state had a graduation rate of 79.8 percent in 2013.

That year, Minneapolis Public Schools had a graduation rate of 53.9 percent, while 73.3 percent of St. Paul Public School students graduated in four years. (Compare graduation rates for other schools or districts in the state here.)

Racial inequalities

The report also highlighted racial inequalities and the achievement gap that plagues urban education throughout the country.

Low-income households and students of color were less likely to attend a top performing school than their white counterparts in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. Black and Hispanic students were also more likely to receive out-of-school suspensions than white students in both cities.

"We've found those results really sobering, and, in some ways, all too familiar, especially for students from low-income households and for students of color," Michael DeArmond, a senior research analyst at CRPE and one of the report's authors, told Education Week.

Other notable findings

  • Fewer than one-third of cities made gains in math or reading proficiency over three years. Minneapolis and St. Paul both had "statistically significant" gains in math proficiency relative to state performance: 23.7 percent and 13.84 percent, respectively.
  • But, both cities declined in reading proficiency. Minneapolis fell 4.13 percent, while St. Paul declined by 9.84 percent.
  • In 29 of the 50 cities, fewer than 10 percent of high school students were enrolled in advanced math classes. Only 5.24 percent of students took advanced math in Minneapolis, while 9.85 percent of St. Paul students did.
  • However, Minneapolis was among only six cities where Hispanic students took advanced math at a higher rate than white students – 8.45 percent compared to 6.69 percent.
  • Fewer than 15 percent of all high school students took the ACT or SAT in 30 of the 50 cities studied.
  • Only 3.9 percent of high school students (including freshmen and sophomores) in Minneapolis took the ACT or SAT in 2013 – the lowest percentage in the report, while 6.69 percent of students in St. Paul took the exam.

Update: Josh Collins, the director of communications with the Minnesota Department of Education, told BringMeTheNews he questions the validity of the report that claims only 3.9 percent of high school students in Minneapolis took college entrance exams. One reason, Collins says: Why include freshmen and sophomores in the figure, when they don't generally take the college entrance exams?

Collins also notes that, if just Minneapolis Public School data is considered, 1,206 seniors took the ACT in 2011 – that's out of a total student population of 9,738, grade nine through 12. Senior on their own mean 13 percent of Minneapolis Public high schoolers took the ACT that year, and that's not including juniors who frequently do the exam as well.

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