A periodic newsletter on a single topic of interest published by the Office of Higher Education
Minnesota High School Graduate Numbers Peaked Last Year
This issue of Insight releases new high school graduation projections for Minnesota's public and private high schools. The number of high school graduates in Minnesota is projected to decline over the next seven years from 65,073 in 2010 to 59,727 by 2017, a drop of 5,346 students. From 2017 to 2023 the number of graduates is expected to increase slightly, but will remain below the 2010 number of graduates for the state.
The 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 2023
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 grew as children of the baby boom generation reached graduation age.
Current Minnesota high school graduates are at the tail end of the age group known as the "boomlet," the children of baby boomers. The boomlet as a relatively large cohort affected the number of high school graduates and traditional age postsecondary students during the past decade. The immediate generation following the boomlet is slightly smaller and similar in size to the "baby bust" generation.
Minnesota Population by Age and Gender, 2009
Students of color will comprise a larger share of high school graduates in the future. The number of nonwhite graduates is projected to grow by 4,713 students, from 16 percent of all graduates in 2010 to 23 percent of all graduates in 13 years. During the same period, the number of white graduates is projected to decline 12 percent, or by 6,511 students.
Projected Minnesota High School Graduates by Race/Ethnicity
Source: State Demographic Center
Minnesota High School Graduates-Students of Color
"The projected drop in high school graduates in Minnesota could be offset dramatically by an increase in the graduation rates of low-income students and students of color," said David Metzen, Director for the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. "If we care about Minnesota's future, we will help every Minnesotan recognize their full potential."
Minnesota Public High School 4-Year Graduation Rate by Race/Ethnicity 2008-2009
Note: The four-year high school graduation rate is a four-year, on-time graduation rate based on a cohort of first time ninth grade students in 2005 plus transfers into the cohort within the four year period minus transfers out of the cohort within the four year period.
Projections were calculated averaging the past five-year graduation rates of the state's high school students. In Minnesota, students of color have not been graduating at the same rates as white students from public high schools. Today fewer American Indian, Black and Hispanic public high school students graduate in four years, using the graduation rate calculation from the Minnesota Department of Education. Future changes in the high school graduation rates for all groups could positively or negatively impact the high school graduate projections.
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education has prepared state-by-state high school graduation projections. The most recent report in 2008 using 2006 to 2022 projections show the peak number of high school graduates nationally occurring in 2009 and dipping slightly over the next several years before growth resumes at a slower pace around 2015. Projections indicate that between 2005 and 2022, the number of high school graduates nationally will grow by approximately 265,000, or 8.6 percent.
Significant variations in graduates will occur at the regional and state levels. The South will see the most growth in its production of high school graduates, at about 9 percent by 2015; and the West's numbers will climb by 7 percent. The number of graduates produced in the Northeast and the Midwest will decline by 6 and 3 percent, respectively.
The number of high school graduates in North Dakota and South Dakota are projected to show decreases of 10 percent or more. Wisconsin will be similar to Minnesota with around a 10 percent decrease. Iowa's graduates will remain stable.
Percent Change in High School Graduates by State, 2005 to 2015
Source: Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education
Another theme to emerge from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education's analysis is that states will experience a shift in the racial/ethnic composition of their graduates. Numerically, Hispanic graduates will increase 54 percent followed by Asians (32 percent), Blacks (3 percent) and American Indians (7 percent). There will be a decrease in the number of white graduates by 11 percent. All of the growth in the number of public high school graduates nationwide will occur due to the increase in graduates of color.
Projected Proportion of Minority High School Graduates in the United States, 2014-2015
Source: Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education
Currently, 73 percent of new freshman undergraduates enrolled in Minnesota's postsecondary institutions are recent high school graduates and 67 percent of all undergraduates are age 24 and younger. Projections indicate that this steady supply of potential college-age students will decrease slightly over the next five years.
Institutions such as rural community colleges and private four-year institutions drawing the bulk of their students from high schools could be most directly affected by declining numbers of high school graduates. However, many postsecondary education institutions are changing their program offerings and services to accommodate older working adults by offering more flexible course scheduling and online course-taking opportunities.
These projections were prepared by the Minnesota State Demographic Center. Actual enrollments by grade and the numbers of high school graduates were collected from the Minnesota Department of Education. Projections were done separately for public and private school graduates. Public and private graduates were then summed to obtain the state total.
For public school graduates, the ratio of the number of graduates to 10th grade enrollment two years earlier was calculated for the most recent eight years. Calculations were done for the total number of graduates, by racial and ethnic group, and for both genders. The average of the ratio for the most recent three years was used to project future graduates. The standard deviation of the graduation ratio is based on data from the last eight years. The projections are within a 90 percent confidence interval.
Tenth grade enrollment for future years was projected using a 5-year average of grade progression ratios. Grade progression ratios are calculated by dividing enrollment in grade x+1 in year y+1 to enrollment in grade x in year y.
Since private school data do not provide racial and ethnic breakdowns the race and ethnic composition of private school graduates was assumed to be the same as that of private high school students in the 2006-2008 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample.
The Minnesota Office of Higher Education produces high school projections to help postsecondary institutions and other policymakers develop future plans based on probable population changes.
About the Office of Higher Education
The Minnesota Office of Higher Education is a cabinet-level state agency providing students with financial aid programs and information to help them gain access to postsecondary education. The agency also serves as the state's clearinghouse for data, research and analysis on postsecondary enrollment, financial aid, finance and trends.
The Minnesota State Grant Program is the largest financial aid program administered by the Office of Higher Education, awarding up to $150 million in need-based grants to Minnesota residents attending eligible colleges, universities and career schools in Minnesota. The agency oversees other state scholarship programs, tuition reciprocity programs, a student loan program, Minnesota's 529 College Savings Plan, licensing and early college awareness programs and initiatives for youth.
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