Oregon’s Graduation Rate Rises, But Still Lags Nationally

graduation

While Oregon’s high school graduation rate increased in 2015, the state is still behind the national average and is far off from its goal of seeing 100% of its high school students graduate in 2025.

Oregon education officials released data showing that 73.8% of students earned their high school diploma within four years, an increase of almost 2 percentage points from 2014.  The state does not include students who earned GEDs or took longer than four years to earn their diplomas.

The increase applied to most demographic groups, with Latino, black, and economically disadvantaged students all showing an increase of more than 2 percentage points.  Only two groups in the state, Hawaiian or Pacific Islander students and English language learners, showed a decline.

While 88% of Asian students graduated within four years, white, black, Hispanic, and American Indian students did not break the 80% mark.  In terms of gender, 70% of boys earned diplomas in four years in comparison with 78% of girls.

Despite this, Oregon typically has one of the lowest graduation rates in the nation and continues lag behind the national average of over 80%.  While critics say it seems unlikely that Oregon will reach its goal of reaching a 100% graduation rate by 2025, state officials remain positive.

“This increase moves us closer to our goal of having every Oregon student complete high school with a plan,” Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement. “We have work to do as a state to reach that goal, and I am committed to making sure our education system delivers better outcomes.”

The data appears to suggest that income continues to play a role in determining which students will graduate on time.

Statistics from this year show one-third of students in the state who come from low-income families did not receive their diploma within four years.  Meanwhile, 83% of students who are not considered to be low-income attained this goal.

According to Crystal Greene of the ODE, some districts that previously reported low rates saw dramatic increases.

Pendleton High School clocked in higher than the national average with 90.45% of their high school seniors graduating within four years, more than 4% better than the previous year.  PHS, Nixyaawii Community School and Hawthorne Alternative School held a combined rate of 74.5%, increasing by 2.95%.

Portland Public Schools, the largest district in the state, contributed a graduation rate that was right on par with the state average.  Of the 3,222 high school seniors in the district, 2,326 received diplomas in 2015.  An additional 49 received modified diplomas.  In addition, over 100 students earned their GEDs, reports Brendan Murray for GoLocalPDX.

Meanwhile, the Medford School District in the southern portion of the state saw an increase of 10 percentage points, reaching 75%, with the Latino population’s graduation rate rising by an even higher percentage.  District officials say this is due to a focus on data-driven decision making, the establishment of a college-going culture, and improvements made to its approach on English language development.

Terri Dahl, Medford’s supervisor of federal programs and school improvement, said a three-year plan was developed focusing on professional development, student achievement, equity, and the graduation rate.