ST. CLOUD (WJON News) - St Cloud Area Schools has released their 2022 graduation rates.

Minnesota statewide average: 83.5%

Apollo High School: 79.7%

Tech High School: 78.5%

McKinley Area Learning Center: 33%

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Superintendent Laurie Putnam says four-year graduation rates are misleading, given the unique challenges at District 742.

(If) a student takes longer than four years, (that) doesn't mean they aren't very capable. I think that the expectation for some of our students is not appropriate, nor is it even how the system is set up. We fund our students on IEPs and our multilingual learners until they're 21. Because we know that they need more time. St. Cloud has one of the highest Special Education populations and one of the highest (English learner) populations.

Putnam says more than 50% of the student population is currently working on an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or they are an English as a second language (EL) students. Putnam says those students need more time to graduate, and the special education programming at the district is very advanced.

Furthermore, Putnam says the district is adding funding to hire more teachers and paraprofessionals to assist students who struggle in reading and math. She says those investments will lead to better outcomes.

We offer the most AP classes and our commitment is that every student by 2025 leaves either with college credit, work experience, or an industry or trade certification. We are making that commitment, and that's not a commitment that you can get somewhere else.

McKinley Area Learning Center (ALC) ranked lowest in the state, with a 33% graduation rate. Superintendent Laurie Putnam says the success of McKinley students can’t be measured by a four-year graduation rate. There are 14 pathways, ranging from credit recovery to life issues, that qualify a student for the non-traditional educational setting.

Putnam said the work done under Principal William Sininger is building a community of respect, optimism, achievement, and responsibility. Specifically, McKinley students spend Friday mornings in credit recovery classes and then are moved into community businesses to get real-world training and work experience. Putnam says those new programs will lead to improvements in the graduation and test scores of McKinley ALC.



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