Minnesota Schools Among the Best in the Nation

The excellence of Minnesota schools has been in the news lately.

First, a new study shows that Minnesota's graduation rate is among the highest in the county. The study, released Wednesday by Education Week, ranked the state's graduation rate as the ninth highest in the nation for the Class of 2005. That year is the most recent for which data is available. The state's graduation rate was 78 percent, compared with the national average of 71 percent.

States listed in the report as having the highest graduation rates, other than Minnesota, include New Jersey (83 percent), Iowa (83 percent), Wisconsin (81 percent), North Dakota (79 percent) and Pennsylvania (80 percent). Among neighboring states, only South Dakota had a lower graduation rate, at 76 percent, than Minnesota. States listed with the lowest graduation rates include Nevada (45 percent), New Mexico (54 percent), Louisiana (55 percent), South Carolina (56 percent) and Georgia (58 percent).

That’s not all! Minnesota educators and legislators will again push to have the state’s drop-out age raised from 16 to 18 years old. This move would possibly help to prevent students from dropping out, keeping even more youths within the schools until they graduate.

Second, when Newsweek Magazine recently released its annual list of "America's Best High Schools," twenty-one Minnesota schools appeared among the U.S.’s top 1,300.

The top Minnesota schools and their rankings are as follows:

Edina MN, 93
St. Louis Park MN, 209
Minneapolis Southwest, 215
Eastview in Apple Valley, 436
St. Anthony, 497
Minnetonka MN, 531
Mahtomedi MN, 719
Lakeville North, 863
Minneapolis Patrick Henry, 890
Wayzata MN, 940
Irondale, 1021
Mounds View MN, 1041
Simley in Inver Grove Heights, 1,051
Hopkins MN, 1,084
Highland Park, 1,187
South Minneapolis, 1,223
Brainerd, 1,252
Eden Prairie, 1,253
South St. Paul, 1,311
Apple Valley MN, 1,400
Century in Rochester, 1,401

Fifteen of the 21 named this year also were cited last year, including Edina, Southwest, St. Louis Park, Minnetonka, Patrick Henry, Eastview, Highland Park, Mounds View, Lakeville North, Brainerd, Wayzata, St. Anthony, Mahtomedi, Hopkins and Irondale. As you can see, many of these school districts are also within easy moving distance in Twin Cities communities.

Finally, at the end of April, the Choice & Education Across the States report released by The Heartland Institute ranked Minnesota 5th in the nation in school choice options that increase accountability and improve student achievement. Minnesota received an overall “B” in the report that sought to combine all aspects for school choice into one ranking.

Among the rankings in the report:
  • Minnesota ranked second in the nation for the number of charter school programs in the state. There are now 143 charter schools in Minnesota. According to the report, there are 4,147 charter schools in 40 states and Washington, D.C. serving more than 1.2 million students nationwide.
  • Minnesota was mentioned as the first state to enact a charter school law in 1991.
  • Minnesota ranked first in individual tax credit programs for education. Minnesota has two programs—the K–12 education subtraction and the K–12 education credit—to help families pay expenses related to their child’s kindergarten through 12th grade (K–12) education.
  • Minnesota ranked high in available options by providing open enrollment and magnet school choices. Minnesota fell short of a perfect score in this area by lacking a state law ensuring statewide access to online distance learning.
Education has been made a priority in Minnesota and it shows. Not only has Minnesota had a long-standing commitment to creating and maintaining an excellent public school system, but has provided students and parents a variety of school choice options and greater flexibility. This state is truly a great place to raise a family.

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