Graduation rates increase in Alexandria, Osakis and dip in Brandon-Evansville

Rates in all school districts higher than state average.

Darcy Josephson

Graduation rates for two area school districts – Alexandria and Osakis – increased from 2019 to 2020, while Brandon-Evansville saw a decrease.

The Minnesota Department of Education released statewide graduation rates last week and overall, Minnesota high school seniors reached another historic high with a graduation rate of 83.8% in 2020.

This continues to be an upward trend for Minnesota’s statewide four-year graduation rate, which has increased 1.3 percentage points in the last five years, according to MDE.

In all three area school districts, however, graduation rates are a lot higher than the statewide average.

The state’s goal is for school districts to have a four-year graduation rate of at least 90% for all students and at least 85% for each subgroup of students.


The Osakis School District had the highest of the three local districts with 98.3% of its high school seniors graduating in 2020. That is up 1.7% from 2019 when the district saw a 96.6% graduation rate.

The 2020 graduation rate is the highest the Osakis district has seen in the last five years with the lowest being in 2016 when 92.6% of the senior class graduated.

The Brandon-Evansville High School saw a drop in its graduation rate, going from 100% in 2019 to 96.8% in 2020. However, it was a significant increase from its lowest rate in five years, which was in 2017 when only 80% of the seniors graduated.

Alexandria Area High School saw an increase of 2.2% from 2019 (91.3%) to 2020 (93.5%). This is the highest percentage Alexandria has had in the last five years. The lowest graduation rate was in 2018 when 88% of the students graduated.

“We are seeing positive results from support and intervention programs that are in place to help students complete their high school graduation requirements and leave high school college and career ready,” said Darcy Josephson, Alexandria assistant superintendent.

While many graduation rates continue to climb, which is good news, the better news, according to Education Minnesota, is that dropout rates have seen a steady decline statewide.

In 2019, the statewide dropout rate was at 4.4% while in 2020, it was at 3.7%.

“The last two school years have been unprecedented. We must heartily congratulate all the students who have successfully navigated them and graduated,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “At the same time, we thank all the educators who have given their all to support those students through the pandemic. Together, we met more challenges and maneuvered around more obstacles these last two school years than anyone could describe.”


Commissioner of Education Heather Mueller said seeing the dropout rates continue to decrease is "incredibly promising."

“When our school communities rally around students to help them complete high school, we can make a real difference,” said Mueller. “Dropout prevention begins the moment students walk in the door of our elementary schools and continues until they make it to graduation. I am excited to continue working with school leaders to share effective practices in this critical area.”

While Minnesota has much to be proud of, said Mueller, she said there is still work to be done to close gaps and increase access, participation and representation to ensure all students graduate from high school.

Graduation rates for the last five years


  • 2016 – 91.2%

  • 2017 – 91.2%

  • 2018 – 88%

  • 2019 – 91.3%

  • 2020 – 93.5%


  • 2016 – 97%

  • 2017 – 80%

  • 2018 – 90%

  • 2019 – 100%

  • 2020 – 96.8%


  • 2016 – 92.6%

  • 2017 – 97%

  • 2018 – 98.1%

  • 2019 – 96.6%

  • 2020 – 98.3%

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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