Range Schools are Great–and there’s proof

Growing up in Hibbing we always heard that Hibbing had the BEST education. Some of this was word of mouth, perhaps based on the 1968 Bellamy Award given to one school each year to honor outstanding academics. But part was and IS based on fact: Rock Ridge, Mesabi East, Mountain Iron-Buhl, and Hibbing High all have graduation rates in the 90th percentile, above the State median, and Hibbing outperformed the State on all three categories of the Minnesota Comprehensive Exams in 2019.

US News and World Report ranks high schools based upon their performance on state assessments and how well they prepare students for college. Per Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment 2019 test scores, Hibbing outperformed the State in math, reading and science, and the graduation rate was over the State median.

With the creation of Rock Ridge School District, MCA data for Virginia and Eveleth-Gilbert were not reported on the site.  But Virginia’s graduation rate was 99%, and Eveleth-Gilbert was 94%.

Mountain-Iron Buhl was 93%, All three schools graduation rates were over the State Median.

On the eastern most side of the Range, Mesabi East graduation rate was 92%, and met State standards in Science.

As an educator, what I find even more exciting is Rock Ridge’s approach. The “new Rock Ridge High School is a unique and research-based model of education that will prepare our students for their personal lives as well as their career aspirations. Rock Ridge High School is the only wall-to-wall career academy school north of the Twin Cities.” Combining what once were the Virginia and Eveleth-Gilbert school districts into one district in a brand new facility, Rock Ridge is taking a new approach to better align with the Local, State and National Economy.

As noted on their website, “70% of all jobs in our economy require a year of education beyond high school, while 30% of jobs require a 4-year degree. In addition, many students who graduate from high school lack clear focus on what jobs may be best suited to their unique personality and skill set. Consequently, many students incur significant student debt without truly understanding whether a particular major or field of study is a right fit for them.’

“At Rock Ridge High School, we do things differently. Rock Ridge provides opportunities for students to discover their own individual interests and career options to better prepare them for what awaits them after graduation. The focus will be not on ensuring that each student pursues a four-year degree, but instead we will focus on each student and what best suits their talents, interests, and aspirations, which certainly may include the pursuit of a four-year degree or more.”

Hibbing High School also offers career pathways in Education and Child Care, Health Careers, Performing Arts and Communication, Engineering and Engineering Technology and Building and Trades.

This focus on recognizing student propensities as well as tying in education to workforce is admirable. While I advocate strongly for higher education, it is in an applicable, financially feasible way. Minnesota North, the six campus, range wide college of the Range and beyond, does just this. Through technical and liberal arts transfer programs, our students (whether Range born, out of State, or International) can get personalized, responsive, affordable career preparation education.

There really IS no better place to raise children and have them attend public school.


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