Mandan is in the bottom 15 districts when it comes to graduation rates.
Mandan High School has an 80 percent graduation rate after steadily decreasing since the 2014 – 2015 school year.
A Mandan High School Junior wrote about the graduation rate. In the article, she says there’s a stigma that the school is ‘ghetto’ and ‘second rate’.
MHS Principal Mark Andresen comments, “Unfortunately, we’ve fought that issue with Mandan being a sister community to Bismarck for many, many years. Honestly, I thought we were beyond that.”
Andresen has been the Principal at Mandan High School for 15 years, but he taught there for nine years before that.
He says there are a lot of factors that affect the graduation rate, but a big piece is that almost half of Mandan students qualify for free and reduced lunch.
Deputy Director for the North Dakota Office of School Approval and Opportunity Joe Kolosky explains, “People that live in poverty have less resources, and graduation rate may not be a priority. Usually, finding dinner is the priority for people living in poverty.”
Kolosky and Andreson say one of the biggest reasons for Mandan’s graduation rate is the location, and the fact that many of these students are transient; meaning they move schools a couple of times before graduating.
Andresen adds, “Different students that come from reservations, or in this case, many are coming in from oil country.”
The Native American population has a 29 percent graduation rate in Mandan, compared to 59 percent in Bismarck and 71 percent in Williston.
Andresen shares, “From some of the data that I get from some of the of the kids when I speak with them, is that it’s very difficult for them, so we’re trying to add supports for them.”
Kolosky explains, “Our Native American population have been through a myriad of issues for hundreds of years. The good news we have with our Native American population is that their graduation rate has gone up roughly nine percent in the last five years.”
Here’s how the district compares to other sizable cities in our viewing area:
The overall graduation rates for the 2017 – 2018 school year are as follows-
Mandan: 80 percent
Bismarck: 89 percent
Dickinson: 85 percent
Minot: 86 percent
Williston: 83 percent
Kolosky adds, “Overall, there was a slight improvement for graduation rates throughout the state. The last five years is a one to two percent increase in graduation rate. Which is a good thing.”
Andresen says he doesn’t think Mandan necessarily has disadvantages compared to the other districts, and adds, the whole district is working together to make improvements.
He says Mandan High has put several strategies in place in the last few years to keep students on track for graduation.
Those include online programs for remediation work, and 25 minutes of tutorial time for all students every day, where they can go back to any teacher for help.