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New Graduation Rate Data Reveals Local Wins, Statewide Trends

Many school districts in Southern Oregon are beating the state average for graduation and dropout rates, according to new data released by the Oregon Department of Education.

Posted: Jan 24, 2019 6:05 AM
Updated: Jan 26, 2019 11:48 AM

SALEM, Ore. — A number of school districts in Southern Oregon are seeing graduation rates and dropout rates better than the state average — particularly in Jackson County. The results come from data collected by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) for both four and five-year cohorts.

“This achievement is the result of dedicated efforts of teachers and staff in Kindergarten through twelfth grade to remove barriers to learning while maintaining high expectations for students,” said Medford Schools Superintendent Dr. Brian Shumate.

Oregon Graduation Rate Details (from ODE)

  • Female students (82%) were more likely to graduate than male students (75.6%) — a gap that has been fairly consistent for years, but has closed slightly in the past decade.
  • When broken down along lines of race/ethnicity, Asian students were by far the most likely to graduate (90%). White students came in a distant second (80.1%). American Indian/Alaska Native students were the most disadvantaged (65.3%).
  • Former English Learners — students who learned English as a second language prior to high school — had an overall higher graduation rate (82.5%) than native English speakers who did not have to learn (79.2%). Students who learned English during high school had a much lower rate than either (55.8%).
  • Migrant students achieved a graduation rate of 75%.
  • Students who participated (88.1%) or concentrated (92.8%) in career and technical education had a much higher than average graduation rate.
  • 95% of students identified as "talented and gifted" graduated in 2018.

The Medford School District is one of the local districts with much to celebrate. Their graduation rate for the 'Class of 2018' hit 80.5 percent, beating the state average of 78.7 percent. Central Point Schools performed even better, hitting an 83.33 graduation rate, while Ashland topped them all by hitting 85.6 percent.

The Grants Pass and Three Rivers districts fell below the state graduation average at 72.71 and 75.20 percent, respectively. The Klamath County School District narrowly topped the state — reaching 79.2 percent.

Some of these schools did considerably better when considering "completion rates," which factor in General Education Development (GED) certifications.

Some individual schools in several districts far surpassed the bar set by averages across a district or the state. Henley and Lost River high schools proved to be some of the top performers in the state, with graduation rates of 99.3 and 96.15, respectively. Henley in particular had a 100 percent completion rate — meaning every student either graduated or received their GED within four years.

Logas Public Charter School had a rate of 93 percent, and North Medford High had a rate of 91 percent. 

Zachary Cheyne-Russell, a student at Henley High School, edits a photo of classmate Colton Chenault for the school’s yearbook during a media class.

[Zachary Cheyne-Russell, a student at Henley High School, edits a photo of classmate Colton Chenault for the school’s yearbook during a media class.]

Overall, Oregon schools have seen a steady climb in graduation and completion rates since 2010 for students of nearly every background — including students with special needs or those with insecure housing. Still, the state graduation rate for Special Education students stands at only 60.6 percent, while homeless students ranked even lower at 54 percent.

In the Medford School District, the graduation rate for students with special needs skyrocketed to 74.36 percent — 18 points higher than in 2016. The district also boasts a graduation rate of 80 percent for English language learners.

“The District’s continued effort to increase inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities through the use of co-teaching is having positive outcomes,” said Tania Tong, Director of Special Education and Services for Medford.

While all of the above data comes from a four-year cohort — or students who started as a freshman in the 2014-15 school year and were expected to graduate in 2018 — the data from ODE also added a "five-year cohort," which followed students from the previous cohorts who may have taken an extra year to graduate.

In most cases, the extra year meant a few significant percentage points added to graduation rates — sometimes in particular areas. For instance, the data indicates that many more male students take an extra year to graduate than female students, allowing them to close the gap somewhat between their overall graduation rates.

NewsWatch 12 will continue to examine the new data provided by ODE and update this story accordingly as other important information emerges.

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