[RELEASE] 83.3 Percent of Minnesota's Class of 2021 Graduated in Four Years

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department of education

For Immediate Release

Contact: Ashleigh Norris


March 30, 2022

Previous Announcements

83.3 Percent of Minnesota's Class of 2021 Graduated in Four Years

Statewide graduation rate drops 0.5 percentage points from 2020, reflects impact of pandemic and reinforces the need for support

MINNEAPOLIS – Today, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) released the class of 2021’s graduation rate data. The graduation rate for the class of 2021 was 83.3% (57,137 students), which represents a 0.5 percentage point decrease in the four-year graduation rate compared to the class of 2020. The small decrease in graduation rate is driven by a 0.3 percentage point increase in the dropout rate and 0.2 percentage point increase in the unknown rate. In 2021, 3,594 students from earlier classes earned their diplomas, graduating five, six or seven years after beginning high school.

The 2020-21 school year was the first full school year impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The class of 2021 faced incredibly difficult circumstances in their final years of high school. I am extremely proud of our 2021 graduates and the educators, leaders, staff and families who helped them make it to graduation,” said Commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller. “The slight decrease in our graduation rate reinforces how challenging the pandemic has been on our students. We remain committed to ensuring every single Minnesota student graduates from high school, whether that is in four years, five years, six years or more.”

Over the last several years, Minnesota’s four-year graduation rate has been trending upward, rising from 82.5 for the class of 2016 to 83.8 for the class of 2020, and dropout rates have decreased in recent years. This year’s graduation rate dip underscores the importance of ensuring Minnesota public schools have the funding and resources necessary to support all students.

Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan’s Budget to Move Minnesota Forward aims to stabilize education funding by investing an additional 2% on the general education formula, which is the most flexible funding public schools receive and allows school leaders to meet local needs with local solutions. The budget also invests in targeted efforts and programs that have been shown to increase graduation rates, such as the Minnesota Multi-tiered System of Supports, Full-Service Community Schools and additional support personnel to help students with a variety of needs, including those who may be at risk of falling behind.

New this year is the addition of the state definition of American Indian to the graduation report. The state definition allows students to be reported as American Indian even if they also belong to other racial and ethnic groups. Under the federal definition of American Indian or Alaska Native, these students would fall under “Hispanic/Latino” or “two or more races” and would not be counted as American Indian or Alaska Native in reporting. The four-year graduation rate for American Indian students (state definition) saw an increase from 58.4% to 58.5% between 2020 and 2021.

In addition to American Indian students (state definition), two more student groups saw increases in the class of 2021’s four-year graduation rate compared to the class of 2020: Black students (+1.2) and students identifying as two or more races (+1.1). English learners and students receiving special education services saw decreases of 1.5 and 1.0 percentage points, respectively, highlighting the urgency to reduce the English learner and special education funding cross-subsidies.

 “We will continue to work for our students and we need support from the legislature,” said Commissioner Mueller. Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan’s Due North Education plan outlines our goals and the Governor’s proposed education budget will help provide the resources to ensure that every student is seen, valued, heard and represented throughout their educational experience and is supported all the way through high school graduation.”

Student Group Data: Four-year Graduation Rate Trends

Student Demographic Group

2020 Graduation Rate (percent)

2021 Graduation Rate (percent)

Change from 2020 to 2021 (percentage points)

All students




American Indian (state definition)




American Indian (federal definition)












Hispanic or Latino




Two or more races








Students receiving special education services




English learners




Students eligible for free or reduced-price meals




More About the Data

Find graduation data on the Minnesota Report Card, presented in an easy-to-read, mobile-friendly layout that includes charts and graphs illustrating trends and results for all student groups.

View the complete statewide, district, school and county graduation rates in an Excel spreadsheet by visiting our Data Reports and Analytics' Student webpage. In the Category field, select Graduation Rate to access graduation indicator files for each year. In the Year, Subcategory and Level fields, select the desired data, if needed. Click List files to view the spreadsheet.

View data on enrollment in developmental education in Minnesota colleges and universities on the Minnesota Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System (SLEDS).