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American Indian graduation rates in Carlton County rise, dropout rate decreases

Overall, the four-year graduation rates in Carlton County slightly increased to 89.81%.

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Carlton High School class of 2020 president Justin Swanson sits on the edge of the family vehicle window for a better view before his graduation ceremony begins Friday, May 22, 2020. (Pine Journal File)
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Graduation rates for American Indian students in Carlton County rose significantly in 2020 and their dropout rates were more than cut in half, according to recently released Minnesota Department of Education data.

Overall, the four-year graduation rates in Carlton County slightly increased to 89.81%. The rates for American Indian students rose by 18.34% to 76.67% in 2020. This increase in American Indian graduation rates is the largest of any county in northeast Minnesota and much larger than the 4.9% increase statewide.

While the dropout rate for American Indian students in neighboring St. Louis County tripled, the dropout rate in Carlton County was more than cut in half, dropping from 16.67% in 2019 to 6.67% in 2020.

Half of the schools in the county also had a better overall graduation rate in 2020, while the other half dipped slightly.

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Cloquet High School

Cloquet High School’s four-year graduation rate dipped by 1.41% to 92.86% overall.

However, the school’s American Indian graduation rate increased from 2019 to 2020 to 85% — a jump of more than 12%. Of the 20 students who identify as American Indian in the class of 2020, 17 graduated, one dropped out, one is continuing and one is unaccounted for. The graduation rate of 85% is considered high for this group of students as the statewide graduation rate for American Indian students was only 55.7% in 2020.

Carlton Public Schools

After a three-year rise in graduation rates in Carlton Public Schools, the district saw a nearly 10% dip in 2020.

The four-year graduation rate fell to 93.62% after reaching 100% in 2019. Of the 47 students in the class of 2020, 44 graduated, one dropped out, one is continuing and one is unaccounted for.

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In Carlton, 90% of American Indian students graduated, with one student unaccounted for. A student is marked as unknown or unaccounted for when they leave the district but district officials don't know where the student ended up.

Esko Public Schools


Esko Public Schools continued its 100% four-year graduation rate for the third year in a row. The school began posting a 100% four-year graduation rate in 2018.

In 2016, the school had two unaccounted for students, bringing their graduation rate down to 97.85%. In 2017, the school had one student drop out, putting their graduation rate at 98.82%.

Moose Lake Community Schools

After a dip in graduation rates in 2018, Moose Lake Community Schools’ rates have been on the rise.

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The four-year graduation rate in 2018 was 83.33% and has risen to 97.14% in 2020. Of the 35 students in the class, 34 graduated and one dropped out.

Cromwell-Wright Public Schools

After three years of declining graduation rates, Cromwell-Wright Public Schools finished the 2020 year with a 100% graduation rate.

The four-year graduation rate hit a low in 2019 at 89.29%, with one student dropping out, one continuing and one unaccounted for.

Barnum Public Schools

Barnum’s four-year graduation rate took a dip in 2020 by just over 3%.

Barnum’s graduation rate in 2020 was 93.44%. Of the 61 students in the class, 57 graduated, three dropped out and one is continuing their education.

The graduation rate in 2019 was 96.61%, after one student dropped out and one was unaccounted for.

Wrenshall Public Schools

Wrenshall saw a significant increase in graduation rates in 2020, but is still below the county’s overall graduation rate.

Wrenshall’s graduation rate was 88.46%, which is up from 80.65% in 2019. Of the 26 students in the class of 2020, 23 graduated, two are continuing their education and one is unaccounted for.

In 2019, three students dropped out of school.

Fond du Lac Ojibwe School

The four-year graduation rate has been decreasing since 2018 and 2020 didn't end differently.

The graduation rate in 2020 was 69.57%. Of the 23 students in the class, 16 graduated, three dropped out and four are continuing their education. The graduation rate dipped 6.43% in 2020 from 2019.

Related Topics: EDUCATIONCARLTON COUNTY
Adelle Whitefoot covers K-12 education in northeast Minnesota for the Duluth News Tribune. She has been covering education in Minnesota since 2014.
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