Oregon graduation rate tops 80 percent, most southern Oregon districts topped that

All but three school districts in our region were able to beat the state average, and the vast majority of districts saw progress.

Posted: Jan 23, 2020 12:08 PM
Updated: Jan 24, 2020 8:46 AM

SALEM, Ore. — High school graduation rates at Oregon schools climbed again last year, but the state continues to lag behind the national average. In southern Oregon specifically, many districts saw marked improvements — though a few continue to fall beneath even the state average.

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) just recently released the latest grad rates, and NewsWatch 12 has been poring over the numbers for the past several days.

Graduation rates by District

(2018-19 / 2017-18)

  • State of Oregon avg.: 80.01 / 76.88
  • Ashland SD 5: 89.33 / 85.61
  • Phoenix-Talent SD 4: 85.34 / 75.25
  • Klamath County SD: 82.37 / 79.20
  • Brookings-Harbor SD 17C: 80.58 / 74.44
  • Medford SD 549C: 80.34 /80.50
  • Central Point SD 6: 80.06 / 83.33
  • Three Rivers SD: 77.48 / 75.20
  • Grants Pass SD 7: 77.27 / 72.21
  • Ealge Point SD 9: 74.36 / 72,41
  • Klamath Falls City Schools: 71.43 / 63.31

After the 2018-19 school year, the overall Oregon graduation rate rose to 80.01 percent. Though it's the sixth year in a row that grad rates have improved, it still falls well below even last year's national average of 84.6 percent.

In southern Oregon, only two counties rose above the state average: Jackson and Lake, with 80.64 and 92.16 percent, respectively. The dropout rates in both counties were lower than the state average in all categories but one — Asian students in Jackson County and CTE Concentrators in Lake.

Still, many individual districts rose above the state average. The Ashland, Phoenix-Talent, Klamath County, and Brookings-Harbor school districts all beat the state average and improved their grad rates over the previous year. Medford and Central Point both beat the state rate, but actually fell slightly over their previous year rates.

Three Rivers, Grants Pass, Eagle Point, and Klamath Falls City Schools fell below the state average, but made progress over last year.

RELATED: Oregon needs 'significant work' to raise graduation rates

For at least the fourth year in a row, Henley High School in Klamath County had the highest graduation rate in southern Oregon with nearly 98 percent. Henley topped the entire state in grad rates for multiple years in a row, but has since fallen to the third highest.

Graduation rates for the entire Klamath County School District went up for the fifth year in a row.

Ashland School District had the highest graduation rate of any district (of more than 100 students) in southern Oregon, and increased its rate from 85.61 to 89.33 percent over last year.

Phoenix-Talent School District increased its graduation rate by more than 10 percent over last year, the largest improvement in our region. The next highest increase was Klamath Falls City Schools at 8.12 percent.

Both school districts in Josephine County — Grants Pass and Three Rivers — performed below the state average for graduation and completion.

REPORT: Oregon's school system among the worst in the nation

In August, Governor Kate Brown visited South Medford High School on the first day of the new school year to ceremonially sign the "Student Success Act." Supporters of the $2 billion funding bill, which added a new tax on major Oregon businesses, have touted it as a major investment in Oregon schools and their historically lagging grad rates.

According to the Oregon Department of Education's most recent annual count, more than 22,000 K-12 students experienced some form of homelessness last year, representing one of the most significant barriers to student learning. The agency claims that Student Success funds will help schools combat the issue.

"Thanks to the Student Success Act, we’ll be able to do more to help students experiencing homelessness graduate from high school with a plan for their future,” said ODE Director Colt Gill in a November statement.

Graduation rates represent students who received a regular diploma, participated in "post graduate scholars," or received an Oregon modified diploma. The data from ODE also includes a separate number for completion rates, which includes adult high school diplomas, extended diplomas, or GEDs.

Most schools and districts tend to see a proportionately higher completion rate than graduation, though the difference between the two varies.

NewsWatch 12 is still looking into the information furnished by ODE and will update the article with any further takeaways throughout the day. Watch our broadcasts at 4, 5, and 6 p.m. for the latest developments.

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