WAPS posts best graduation rate in more than a decade

WAPS posts best graduation rate in more than a decade
Graduates wear black robes with orange drapes

Winona Area Public Schools recorded its highest graduation rate in at least a decade, according to data released today by the Minnesota Department of Education.

In 2023, 86.34% of WAPS students graduated in four years, continuing an upward trend that started in 2019. At Winona Senior High School, the graduation rate rose to 93.12% — the highest since 2017. The graduation rate at the Winona Area Learning Center dipped slightly to 52.63% from 60.8% but remained much higher than before the WALC staff embarked on a three-year school improvement plan in coordination with the Regional Centers of Excellence. 

“There is a lot to celebrate in these numbers,” Superintendent Brad Berzinski said. “This is a testament to the hard work of not just our teachers and staff, but also our students and families. As a district, we are committed to making systemic changes to support individual needs, and this is one data point that shows our collaborative work is paying off.”

The graduation rate district-wide exceeds the state average of 83.3%, also released Thursday. The district also graduated students receiving special education services at a higher rate than state-wide (73.7% to 65.6%). Students eligible for free or reduced-price meals graduated at the same rate, 71.9%.

While the increase in graduation rate is cause for celebration, it does not mean the district’s mission is accomplished. The rates fell short of lofty goals set in the World’s Best Workforce Report. The district had set goals of 89.1% district-wide, 95.3% at the high school and 65.8% at the WALC. 

“We are moving in the right direction, but there is still work to be done,” Berzinski said.