Wednesday, January 1, 2014

High School Outcomes in Minneapolis

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this blog do not reflect the official policies or positions of the Department of Education. All reported statistics and analyses are solely attributable to the author in his capacity as a private citizen.

The Civil Right Data Collection (collected for AY 2009-10) allows one to analyze graduation rates across districts, schools, gender, and ethnicity. This post focusses on high school completion and intent to go to college patterns at the Minneapolis Public Schools. Data are available at

The graduation rate in Minneapolis is about 65%. Females tend to have a somewhat higher graduation rate than males.

Graduation rates vary considerably between high schools, with the graduation rate near 80% at Edison and below 50% at Roosevelt and Washburn.

Although females graduate more than males, their graduation rates also vary much more between high schools. At the top four high schools, the male graduation rates are all close to 70%. Meanwhile, differences between female graduation rates seem to be driving many of the differences between total graduation rates among high schools.

Graduation rates also depend on ethnicity, along with the interaction between gender and ethnicity. Graduation rates are lowest among Hispanics -- followed by blacks -- while they are highest among Asians and whites. The gap between females and males is negligible among whites, but substantial among all minority groups. In fact, the gender gap is greatest among Hispanics. That is, the graduation rate is by far the lowest for Hispanic males, while Hispanic females graduate only a little less than their white counterparts.

A look at the ethnic compositions of the high schools suggest ethnicity contributes to the differences between high schools. White / Asian populations are generally highest at the high schools with the highest graduation rates. (Interestingly, Roosevelt and Washburn are both located in overwhelmingly white neighborhoods.) Edison is a notable exception, but I suspect most of the students labeled as "black" at this high school are Somali and East African immigrants -- a distinct group from traditional American blacks.

A look at black graduation rates across high schools, confirms graduation rates are associated with ethnicity. With the exception of Edison, black graduation rates are similarly low across high schools. Edison has a black graduation rate near 80%, but this high level is probably due to the large number of East African blacks enrolled in the high school. South and Henry -- which have the next highest graduation rates -- also likely have significant numbers of East Africans and Somalis.

An alternative metric is whether students take the SAT or ACT exams, which can provides a decent proxy for whether a student is college bound. I find similar patterns to the graduation rate metric (with a few caveats).

More females take the SAT or ACT.

Compared with graduation rates, the patterns between schools are similar. However, somewhat fewer students at Edison are taking the SAT or ACT as one would expect based on graduation. Meanwhile, somewhat more students at Henry and Washburn are taking the exams. My guess is these patterns are due to high school-specific factors: Edison has few middle-class white students, Henry has many second and third generation immigrant Asian students, and Washburn has a somewhat higher number of middle-class white students. Affluence might matter a little bit more in terms of intent to attend college than it does for high school completion.

Again, looking within the gender groups, the largest differences between schools exist most among females.

Ethnic and gender patterns are very similar to the patterns identified from high school graduation rates.

Interestingly, blacks are least likely to take the SAT or ACT at Southwest -- the most predominantly white affluent school in the city. They most likely to take the SAT or ACT at schools with modest (but non-negligible) white populations.