MEDFORD, Ore. -- The Medford Schol District is graduating more students this year than each of the past 3 years. 78% of the Class of 2017 graduated in 4 years. That's just 1% better than the previous year. But when you look 3 years back, that rate was just 65%.
The State of Oregon has a rigorous graduation requirement - it mandates more credits to graduate than other states. It also requires a demonstration of essential skills, which is not expected in many other states.
Looking at the individual high schools, North Medford High School reached an historic 90%. That's up 6.5% over last year. The Medford School District says that means NMHS has the highest graduation rate of public high schools in Southern Oregon. South Medford High School dipped to 83%.
The Medford School District says their short-term success strategies include:
• Analyzing credit acquisition for every student, every quarter, and providing interventions for credit recovery early in the process.
• Continuing efforts to increase student attendance.
• Continuing programs like Freshman Academy that help freshman acclimate to high school and be successful.
Long-range success strategies include:
• Expanding personalized learning options with flexible menus for students that include combinations of online school, homeschool, traditional classroom, and college.
• Expanding the MSD Pathways Program by adding plumbing, electrical, HVAC, carpentry, computer science and more health care options. This is in addition to pre-existing pathways such as pre-engineering, pre-law, and pre-education.
• Supporting the whole student with increased mental health supports by hiring more guidance counselors and expanding its partnership with the Maslow Project, which serves homeless youth in Southern Oregon.
• Increasing post-high school options for students by paying for students’ college tuition while in high school.
A stand-out increase in the graduation rate comes from students who experience disabilities. That rate is up 25% in the past 2 years.
Special Education and Student Services Director Tania Tong credits a number of programs to the graduation rate of students experiencing disabilities, including:
• The Check and Connect Program where trained, caring adults connect weekly with students on class work, assignments, and attendance.
• Increased behavioral supports for students with social and emotional needs.
• Increased academic support for students experiencing disabilities in traditional classrooms with a co-teaching model.
• Implementation of restorative practices, which keeps students in school as opposed to exclusionary discipline.
Medford Superintendent Biran Shumate says there is still more work to be done, even though this is the "highest graduation rate in the history of the Medford School District.