A periodic newsletter on a single topic of interest published by the Office of Higher Education
Minnesota High School Graduates Will Peak in 2009
This issue of Insight releases new high school graduation projections for Minnesota's public and private high schools that show that graduates will increase slightly between 2005 and 2009. After peaking in 2009 at 64,078, the projections show a steady decline, with an overall 10 percent decline from 2005 to 2015. The new high school graduate projections were developed by the Minnesota State Demographic Center for the Office of Higher Education.
Actual and Projected Minnesota High School Graduates from 1978 to 2015
Today's high school graduate numbers are in the midrange of recent historic levels. The years prior to 1992 were characterized by declining numbers of graduates, falling from 72,660 in 1978 to a low of 49,239 in 1992. Since 1992, the number of graduates statewide has been growing as children of the baby boom generation reach graduation age.
Current Minnesota high school graduates are part of the age group known as the "boomlet," the children of baby boomers. The boomlet is a relatively large cohort, affecting the number of high school graduates and traditional age post-secondary students for the remainder of this decade.
Minnesota Population by Age and Gender, 2004
Graduates of Color will Increase while White Graduates Decline
Projected Change in Minnesota High School Graduates
Students of color will comprise about 20 percent of Minnesota high school graduates in 2015, up from 13 percent in 2005. The largest increases will be in the number of Hispanic and Black graduates.
Students of color will make up a growing proportion of the public high school student body. Currently, students of color are 20 percent of the metro area public high school population in grades 10 through 12. Seventy-one percent of students at Minneapolis and St. Paul public high schools are students of color.
Projected Minnesota High School Graduates-Students of Color
In preparing the data for this report, high school graduation rates (or ratios) were used to more accurately predict high school graduation of students by racial and ethnic group. Two groups, Black and especially Hispanic students, were considerably less likely to graduate from high school within five years of entering eighth grade than their Asian, American Indian and white counterparts. The Minnesota State Demographic Center adjusted its projections accordingly, meaning that a lower percentage of Black and Hispanic students in eighth grade are projected to graduate five years later. The lower graduation rates diminished the potential number of Black and Hispanic students included in the projections. As high school graduation rates improve for certain groups, high school graduate projections will increase.
Projected Minnesota High School Graduates by Race/Ethnicity
Minnesota High School Graduate Projections Vary by Planning Region
Regional data are reported by 11 Minnesota economic development regions. These boundaries were established in 1969 based on a variety of cultural, economic, political and social characteristics. Regions follow county lines.
Projected Percent Change in High School Graduates between 2004-2005 and 2014-2015
Greater Minnesota High School Graduates Have Peaked
Two major trends are projected to result in decreasing numbers of high school graduates in Greater Minnesota. First, the population bulge of the boomlet generation has graduated from high school, with fewer elementary and secondary students to follow. This trend is more pronounced in Greater Minnesota. Second, Census data show a steady migration of people from rural communities to the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
Metropolitan Area Graduates Outnumber Graduates from Greater Minnesota
Twin Cities graduates are projected to peak in 2009 at about 33,980 before declining to about 31,775 in 2015. Twin Cities (Region 11) high school graduates made up 45 percent of total graduates in 1996, 51 percent in 2005, and are projected to make up 53 percent in 2015.
Actual and Projected Minnesota High School Graduates between the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area and Greater Minnesota, 1996-2014
Implications for Post-Secondary Enrollments
Institutions such as community colleges that draw the bulk of their students from high schools within the local service area will be most directly affected by declining numbers of high school graduates. At the same time, many post-secondary education institutions have changed and expanded their program offerings and services to accommodate older non-traditional students.
High school graduation trends in surrounding states will also have implications for Minnesota post-secondary institutions. State education departments in Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin do not prepare high school graduate projections, but prepare K-12 enrollment projections. In each of the adjacent states, the population expected to be seniors in high school is projected to decrease over the next 10 years.
Once the peak of new Minnesota high school graduates passes in 2009, traditional age populations of post-secondary students are projected to decline. This is similar to what happened in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
College Participation Rates Remain Steady
Notes on Methodology
These projections were prepared by the Minnesota State Demographic Center. Total enrollments by grade and the numbers of high school graduates were collected from the Minnesota Department of Education. The method used projected the number of future high school graduates using historical series of the ratios of eighth-grade enrollment to graduation five years later and tenth-grade enrollments to graduation three years later. The ratio used is the average of the past five years. Future eighth-grade and tenth-grade enrollments are projected using a historical series of grade progression ratios. An uncertainty range was developed for each projected value, providing an approximate 90 percent confidence interval.
The Minnesota Office of Higher Education produces high school projections to help post-secondary institutions and other policymakers develop future plans based on probable population changes.
About the Office of Higher Education
The Office of Higher Education is a state agency providing students with financial aid programs and information to help them gain access to post-secondary education. The agency serves as the state's clearinghouse for data, research and analysis on post-secondary enrollment, financial aid, finance and trends.
The Minnesota State Grant program, which is administered by the agency, is a need-based tuition assistance program for Minnesota students. The agency also oversees tuition reciprocity programs, a student loan program, Minnesota's 529 college savings program, licensing and an early awareness outreach initiative for youth. Through collaboration with systems and institutions, the agency assists in the development of the state's education technology infrastructure and shared library resources.
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