Robbinsdale Area Schools

District sees substantial gains in 2021 graduation rates

The percentage of Robbinsdale Area Schools seniors who graduated in 2021 increased considerably compared to 2020, according to data released by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Wednesday.

In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, Robbinsdale’s graduation rate climbed to 83.1 percent in 2021, an increase of 2.9 percentage points compared to the district’s 2020 graduation rate of 80.2 percent. It’s also the highest graduation rate in nine years.

“Last year’s graduates really had to adapt and overcome so much instability due to the pandemic, and they stepped up,” said Superintendent David Engstrom. “Our goal as a school district is for all our students to earn their diplomas, and we’ll continue to work hard to make that goal a reality.”

Some of that hard work includes new ways to support students, such as multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), which is a framework that brings together what teachers see in the classroom with a student’s assessment results to create more personalized instruction for every student. Part of that personalized touch includes academic interventions in reading and math and “WIN Wednesdays” at the high schools. These allow students to receive social-emotional and academic support in a one-on-one setting or in small groups. Aggressive credit recovery and completion programs have also helped make a difference for students.

“We know that when we tailor instruction to students, positive outcomes are more likely to occur,” Engstrom said. “That’s something we’ve been working conscientiously to do for our students, and these graduation rates show the past four years of work is starting to pay off.

“As we undertake a new strategic plan and recommit our district to making every student truly seen, heard and understood, I believe we will see still greater progress for our learners in years to come,” Engstrom added.

The district also made significant progress when compared to the state of Minnesota. At 83.1 percent, the Robbinsdale Area Schools graduation rate is nearly identical to the state’s rate of 83.3 percent. And the 0.2 percentage point difference is the closest the district has been to the state graduation rate in more than nine years.

Among student groups, the 2021 data shows graduation rates increased among most student groups, and in many cases, significantly outpaced state numbers.

Other highlights from the data:

  • Armstrong High School’s graduation rate increased 1.5 points from last year  to 92.2 percent.
  • Cooper High School’s rate climbed to 86.8 percent, an increase of 2.5 percentage points from 2020.
  • Robbinsdale Academy-Highview’s graduation rate jumped 10.8 percentage points compared to last year.
  • The graduation rates for American Indian (three year average), Asian, and Black/African American students, as well as those identifying as two or more races, all increased significantly.
    • American Indian student rates rose 8.7 points to 70.6 percent.
    • Asian student rates increased 4.7 points to 91.4 percent.
    • Black/African American student rates rose 6.4 points to 77.8 percent.
    • Identifying as two or more races increased 11.4 points to 86.4 percent.
  • While the graduation rate for Latino/Hispanic students (69.3 percent) dipped compared to last year, it remains even with the state’s percentage (also 69.3 percent). 
  • Graduation rates for English learners, special education, and white students, and students receiving free or reduced lunch, also increased.
    • English learner student rates increased 2.0 points to 67.7 percent.
    • Special education student rates rose 0.7 points to 68.1 percent.
    • White student rates increased 1.5 points to 89.6 percent.
    • Free and reduced price lunch student rates rose 5.3 points to 77.4 percent.

Comprehensive data will be shared with the Robbinsdale Area Schools Board of Education at its April 5 work session and business meeting.

For more information about the state’s release of 2021 graduation data, check out the Minnesota Department of Education’s (MDE) press release.

Graduation rates going back four years

All students

State

District

Armstrong

Cooper

Highview

2018

83.2

79.7

88.3

86.2

20.6

2019

83.7

81.6

89.7

87.0

34.3

2020

83.8

80.2

90.7

84.3

38.1

2021

83.3

83.1

92.2

86.8

48.9