When the Minnesota Department of Education released the graduation rates for 2018 on Tuesday, April 23, there were two pieces of good news.

First, the state's graduation rate was the highest it has ever been.

"I am proud to announce that more Minnesota seniors than ever before graduated in 2018 with 55,869 students graduating," said Commissioner of Education Mary Cathryn Ricker. "That is 83.2% of the graduating class overall, making it the state's highest rate on record."

Second, area high schools graduated students at rates higher than the state average. District 196, which encompasses Rosemount, Apple Valley and Eagan graduated 1,958 students in 2018 or 90.5%. Farmington School District had 409 students graduate, 93.4%.

"Graduating from high school is a critical step on every student's path to find their own success," Ricker said Tuesday. "One Minnesota includes a commitment to support all of our students to earn a diploma."

As Ricker visits schools across the state, she said she has seen creative programming designed by Minnesota educators to meet the unique needs of their students.

"I see the hard work that educators, administrators, coaches, families, and communities put into supporting the needs of our students so they can reach this important milestone," she said. "I have heard story after story from students around the state about what led them to earning a diploma. Each time I hear a similar refrain about a program or an educator who did not give up on students."

Speaking in a conference call with statewide news media on Tuesday morning, Ricker added that over 1,600 students also earned a Seal of Biliteracy by graduating proficient in two or more languages.

Ricker said she will use the data from the graduation report to help her identify programs that are effective, especially in improving the graduation rates of minority students.

"I am committed to focusing on where we are succeeding, so that these gaps close," Ricker said. "I am solution-driven to determine where we can learn from programs that are working, and where we, as the Minnesota Department of Education, can offer additional support."

For more information about graduation rates, see the Minnesota Report Card at http://rc.education.state.mn.us/#mySchool/p--3.

Regional editor Jake Pfeifer contributed to this story.