PHOENIX, Ore. — The day before the Oregon Department of Education releases last year’s graduation and drop out rates one Rogue Valley school shows one way they keep their drop out rate low.
Last year, Phoenix High School had a drop out rate better than the state average. While Oregon schools averaged just over a 3% drop out rate in 2011, statistics shows the ratio of students to counselors is one of the highest in the nation. The principal of Phoenix High School implemented an advisory program in 2006, one of the factors shes says has helped cut the drop out rate in half.
When the bell rings and the halls at phoenix high school fill with students it’s a reminder of how large the student to counselor ratio is at Oregon schools. Counselor Adam Koekkoek has his hands full but it’s better than the state average of more than 550 students per counselor.
“The academic adviser and I both have case loads of over 350 students,” Koekkoek said.
To help combat the high ratio and assure students were receiving the attention they need, Principal Jani Hale started an advisory program at the school in 2006.
“It has to be a student by student by students system. We’re paying attention to the individual students’ needs and an advisory program allows for that.” the principal said.
The advisory program has a faculty member meet weekly with a group of 20 students ranging from freshmen to seniors. Principal Hale says it has been one of the factor that has improved the drop out rate since 2006.
“We needed to train all adults to be able to sit with student and explain where they are, counsel them, and give them ideas, give them hope,” Principal Hale said.
Sophomore Gracie Warner is in here first year at phoenix high school and says at her old school in Portland, appointments had to be made well in advance to meet with an adviser. She says this program makes it easier to stay on top of her grades.
“It’s so much easier getting in contact with them and they’re just really apt to want to help you to succeed.” said Gracie Warner, a Phoenix High School Sophomore.
Koekkoek said the system has really made an impact on the students and faculty.
“Having the advisers there to take on some of that load with students’ individual needs really takes the burden off of our shoulders and really provides better support for our students,” said Koekkoek.
Principal Hale expects to see more improvement in statistics when the state releases graduation and drop out rates on Thursday.