Here are five outstanding education accomplishments in 2017 as identified by the Minnesota Department of Education:
1. Expanded high-quality early learning opportunities
This fall, 22,500 young learners across Minnesota attended state-funded early learning programs, including 6,100 4-year-olds attending free school-bused prekindergarten. These programs are saving families thousands of dollars, while preparing Minnesota’s youngest learners for success in school and life. Read more about Minnesota expanding learning opportunities.
2. High school students posted highest graduation rate on record
More Minnesota students are graduating high school than ever before. With more than 54,000 graduates, the class of 2016 posted an 82 percent graduation rate, up 5 percentage points from 2011. Data also show gaps reducing, as graduation rates for non-white students have increased by 13.1 percentage points during that time.
Further, graduation rates for black students have increased 24 percentage points—a 59 percent increase—since 2006. In comparison to their white peers, this represents a 46 percent reduction in the graduation gap for black students over the last decade. Read more about graduation rates.
3. Students continue to outperform peers across the U.S. on the ACT
In 2017, Minnesota students were first among the 17 states that provided the ACT to all students, and fifth among states where more than half their students take the test. The state currently covers the cost of providing the exam to students receiving free or reduced-price lunch, eliminating a barrier to postsecondary opportunities. Read more about Minnesota students and the ACT.
4. Created Toolkit for Ensuring Safe and Supportive Schools for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students
In collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and the School Safety Technical Assistance Council, we created a toolkit to help school districts and charter schools create school environments where transgender and gender nonconforming students are safe, supported and fully included, and have equal access to the educational opportunities provided to all students. Read more about the toolkit and more about our work to create safe and supportive schools.
5. Submitted state Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan with sharp focus on equity
Minnesota’s state plan was developed over nearly two years with input from 300 public meetings and feedback from thousands of stakeholders. The plan will create more equitable opportunities and outcomes for all students.
Minnesota’s state ESSA plan creates a clear framework for English language learner programs, setting statewide guidelines for the first time. It also requires districts to work closely with local American Indian populations. The new accountability system shines a light on data from all student groups for the first time, holding districts to high standards for all students. Read more on Minnesota’s ESSA plan.