SALEM, Ore. — Amid the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and an exodus to virtual learning in 2020, the Oregon Department of Education says that graduation rates continued to rise.
The state's overall graduation rate rose more than two points to 82.6 percent. Over the past six years, Oregon's graduation rate has gradually risen more than 10 percentage points. ODE says that many of those gains came among underserved groups, which generally saw better increases in graduation rates than the overall state average.
“While the Class of 2020 ended their high school careers in a way no one wanted or expected, the graduation rate shows how much work they put in over the last 13 years with the support of their teachers and families,” ODE Director Colt Gill said. “Seeing greater growth in graduation rates for most students of color, students with disabilities and students navigating poverty than the state as a whole means our continued efforts to foster equity and excellence for all Oregon students continues to yield positive results.”
However, 2020 was a particularly unusual year for Oregon schools, which were forced to rapidly adopt remote learning regimes after Governor Kate Brown ordered closures as coronavirus began to spread in March. As a result, ODE changed some of the rules surrounding graduation requirements.
Oregon seniors were still required to complete 24 credits to gain their diplomas, but they were guaranteed to earn credit for any course that they were passing when the school closures began.
"This allowed schools to provide additional focus on securing credit-earning opportunities and learning for seniors who were not yet passing all required courses at the time of the school closure," ODE said.
Regardless, ODE reported major graduation rate gains among Black students, Hispanic and Latinx students, English language learners, Career and Technical Education students, and homeless students.
“In each of the last six years, Oregon’s graduation rate has risen, and we have steadily increased the number of students from communities of color completing high school," said Governor Kate Brown. "The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the disparities in our education system even further, which is why it is so critical we get our students back into the classroom as quickly as possible. We must renew our commitment to ensuring that every student in Oregon graduates prepared for lifelong success.”
Locally, Logos Public Charter School reported a 95 percent graduation rate, the highest in the school's history.
“In a year when everyone had to adapt quickly to change, it was inspiring how this entire class proved that when you support one another and keep your eye on the horizon with a positive attitude, you always come out on top,” said executive director Sheryl Zimmerer.