ST. CLOUD -- A large project to close the achievement gap is starting soon in District 742.

The "Achievement Integration Plan" is a three year plan with the goal of closing the graduation gap between students in St. Cloud.

Sebastian Witherspoon is the Director of Equity Services for District 742. He says the district's plan has some high expectations.

"We just have a high expectation that our students are going to graduate at a 100% rate. Whether or not that manifests is another discussion but we certainly want and expect all of our students to graduate on time."

Witherspoon adds the program is not based on skin-color

"We want to close the gap between student's who are performing the highest versus students who are performing the lowest."

Witherspoon says the district's new three year plan will combine the efforts of several departments across the district. Whereas the previous three year plans did not have the same level of collaboration.

The specific four year graduation goals of the plan are:

  • American Indian: from 30% in 2017 to 60% in 2020
  • Asian: from 73.20% in 2017 to 100% in 2020
  • Hispanic: from 57.10% in 2017 to 87.10% in 2020
  • Black: from 68% in 2017 to 98% in 2020
  • FRP (free and reduced lunch): from 62% in 2017 to 92% in 2020

One of the program's other goals is to reduce "major behavioral referrals" from 78 percent to 48 percent among students of color.

Over the next three years the Minnesota Department of Education will ensure the district stays on track with its plan with yearly assessments.