Despite a slight dip, District 833 continues to graduate its high school students at a rate well above the state average.
A Minnesota Department of Education report released Feb. 22 showed that the district graduated 91.05 percent of its 1,386 students in 2015. That's nearly 10 points higher than the overall Minnesota graduation rate of 81.88 percent, but slightly below the district's 2014 graduation rate of
Nevertheless, this year's score reflects well on the district's teachers, administrators and staff, said Brian Boothe, director of professional development and accountability.
"We're still hovering but this is the second consecutive year of being above 90 percent," he said. "We're proud of the work that everybody contributes to it along the way."
Boothe said the district is on target to reach an overall graduation rate of 92.7 percent by the year 2017.
The data measured the "on time" graduation rate of students, from ninth grade to four years later. School districts lost percentage points based on the number of dropouts and "continuing" students who need extra time to graduate.
Scores were also adversely affected by students whose status after that fourth year was unknown.
Local graduation rates for 2015 include 95.93 percent for East Ridge, down from 97.1 percent in 2014. Woodbury High School posted a 95.26 percent rate, down from 96 percent in 2014 while Park improved its score to 94.6 percent compared with 94.3 percent in 2014.
Park Principal Kerry Timmerman credited teachers, staff and students for Park's showing, which he noted is close to the graduation rates of its "sister schools."
"When measuring Park and all of South Washington County, we have a lot to be proud of," Timmerman said. "I think we have outstanding kids. We have outstanding teachers. We just take the kids we are given and do the very best we can."
A bump north or south in the 90th percentile can be the result of just a handful of students who graduate on time or don't, he said.
State data also provides graduation rates for certain student groups.
The graduation rate for District 833's black students was 86.32 percent. The rate was 97.56 percent among students who are learning English. Students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches posted an on-time graduation rate of 76.11 percent.
The South Washington Alternative High School posted a 2015 graduation rate of 31.8 percent, down from 50 percent in 2014.
But those figures don't tell the whole story, Principal Mike Mahaffey said.
The students wouldn't be at the Alternative High School had they been on track to graduate from another school, he said.
"When they come to us we know that the main reason they come to us is their graduation rates are behind," Mahaffey said.
They usually need an extra year to graduate, he said. Based on the five-year cohort, their graduation rate is 66 percent, Mahaffey said.
"It does have the ebb and flow to it. We were very proud last year that we went up 28 percent," he said, referring to the difference from 2013 to 2014.