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SSP graduation rate tops 95 percent, makes progress in reducing persistent achievement gaps

Students tossing graduation caps into the air

April 24, 2019 – The four-year graduation rate for South St. Paul (SSP) Secondary grew to 95.5 percent in 2018. According to data released by the Minnesota Department of Education on April 23, the achievement surpasses the statewide graduation rate of 83.2 percent and represents a five year high for SSP Secondary.

“We are thrilled with the growth of our SSP Secondary students and their commitment to academic achievement,” said Chuck Ochocki, principal. “Our students are preparing for a challenging world and we are proud that they will have a strong educational foundation from which to build as they prepare for their next step.”

Of the 200 SSP Secondary students included in the state’s 2018 graduation data, 191 or 95.5 percent graduated, defined by the state as completing high school in four years. Of the students who did not graduate,1.5 percent are continuing school and plan to graduate in the future, one percent dropped out, and the graduation status of the remaining students is unknown (e.g. moved out of the district).

In addition to overall student graduation rates, the district is also looking at individual student group data to assess how curriculum and instruction adjustments can be made to help ensure each and every student has the opportunity to achieve and reach their full potential.  

“We are pleased to see that the graduation rate of our Secondary Hispanic students and students in poverty also showing significant gains in 2018,” said Dr. Chad Schmidt, director of learning. “And when we look at specific student groups, we see that we are making some progress in closing the achievement gap between our highest achieving students and other students, but we know we still have work to do. Our focus is on providing more personalized learning opportunities for students to help them get the support they need to be successful.”

The four-year graduation rates for individual groups of SSP Secondary students in 2018 were as follows:

  • 95.9 percent of White students at SSP Secondary graduated compared to 88.4 percent statewide;
  • 95 percent of Hispanic students at SSP Secondary graduated — an increase of five percent over 2017 — compared to 66.8 percent statewide;
  • 90 percent of Black students at SSP Secondary graduated compared to 67.4 percent statewide;
  • 91.9 percent of students eligible to receive free or reduced-price school meals at SSP Secondary graduated — an increase of 3.4 percent over 2017 — compared to 70.2 percent statewide; and
  • 65 percent of students receiving special education services/on Individualized Education Plan (IEP) at SSP Secondary graduated compared to 62.3 percent statewide.


Graduation rates for American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian, English Learner students and students identifying two or more races were not reported for SSP Schools because there were fewer than 10 students in the group.

When factoring in the SSP students attending the Community Learning Center (CLC), the district-wide graduation rate is 81.2 percent. Ochocki and other district leaders acknowledged that there is work to be done in raising the four-year graduation rate for students attending the CLC, but they also noted that a major purpose of the alternative educational approach at the CLC is to allow students the extra time they need to complete their education.

“We recognize that some kids need more time to achieve high school diploma targets and that is okay,” Ochocki said. “By holding learning as the constant and time as a variable, we are able to help all of our students attain a high school diploma, which we know is important for post-secondary success.”