New Ulm graduation rate at 94.9 percent

NEW ULM — The graduation rate at New Ulm Public Schools remains in the mid-90s, according to the Minnesota Report Card released by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Tuesday.

The graduation rate for the 2017-18 school year was 94.9 percent, 11.7 points above the state average of 83.2 percent.

The school district is well ahead of the state’s GradMN campaign that set a goal of a 90 percent graduation rate for all students by 2020.

“This doesn’t mean we are content with our rate,” Superintendent Jeff Bertrang said. “We continue to adjust and make changes with our programming to meet all students’ needs.”

Out of 156 students in the class of 2018, 148 graduated within a standard four-year cohort — the standard length of time it takes students to graduate from when they first enroll as a ninth-grader.

The MDE calculates the graduation rate using the four-year cohort; however, students who did not graduate or did not drop out are classified as continuing and fall into the five-year cohort.

IN addition to the fifth-year cohort, the MDE also tracks students in their sixth and seventh year after high school.

Bertrang said not all students are on the same timeline towards graduation, with some requiring additional time to meet requirements. He said the high school continues to provide support for students after they leave so they may meet those requirements for graduation.

He said each year shows more students completing graduation requirements.

“Life does happen and sometimes students aren’t ready in four years,” Bertrang said. “Our high school staff continues to work with them so the student can see success and meet the standards, whether it be in four years, five years or six years.”

The MDE also tracks student sub-groups within school districts such as race/ethnicity, gender, income and special needs.

Bertrang said the state tracks these student sub-groups to see if schools are making progress in closing the achievement gap — the differences in academic performance between groups of students.

He said all of New Ulm’s sub-groups made improvements in closing the gap from the 2016-17 school year to the 2017-18 school year.

Sleepy Eye Public School District had an 89.8 percent graduation rate for all students. Madelia graduated 83.1 percent; Comfrey, 90 percent; St. James, 90.5 percent and Springfield, 96.1 percent.

Marking a historic high, Minnesota’s statewide high school graduation rate hit an all-time peak in 2018 at 83.2 percent. Since 2012, the statewide rate has gone up 4.3 percent.

In a Tuesday morning conference call with statewide media outlets, Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker said she’s encouraged to see the state’s graduation rate continue in an upward trend.

“I am looking forward to working alongside our educators across the state to ensure that that trend continues,” Ricker said. “We will not give up on our students.”

Gage Cureton can be emailed at