ST. CLOUD - Graduation numbers are up for St. Cloud area schools, according to numbers released by the Minnesota Department of Education.

Despite the good news, the district is still behind statewide numbers.

The District 742 aggregate graduation rate is 72.03 percent. It reflects a slight uptick from last years rate of 71.6 percent. The rate is up compared to the last three years. However, in 2011 the district posted a 74.8 percent graduation rate.

District 742 says nearly all student groups (English language learners, special education students, students on free/reduced lunch) reflect the improvement. Dropout rates were also down, including for black students where the rate is down by half from the year before.

District 742 is still well behind the statewide average 81.9 percent graduation rate.

It's even further behind several nearby districts: Sauk Rapids-Rice posted a 93 percent graduation rate, Sartell-St. Stephen a 99.2 percent graduation rate and ROCORI a 95.4 percent graduation rate.

Over the last five years, the graduation rate for Minnesota students has gone up 6.4 percentage points, up from 75.5 percent in 2010. The statewide report showed gains in graduation rates among all student groups, except english learners, over the last year.

Governor Mark Dayton says he's encouraged by the progress, but adds that work still needs to be done to ensure all students in the state get quality education.

Chart of St. Cloud graduation rates since 2011. (Photo: Minnesota Department of Education)