Oregon’s graduation rate lags as U.S. hits record high


Oregon’s graduation rate lags as U.S. hits record high

6:50 p.m. PST December 16, 2015

Although the nation’s students are graduating from high school at a higher rate than ever before, Oregon’s graduation rate remains among the lowest in the U.S., according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

The nation’s high school graduation rate hit 82 percent for 2013-14, the highest level since states adopted a new, uniform way of tracking graduation rates five years ago.

Oregon’s graduation rate is, on average, 72 percent of four-year cohorts. Salem-Keizer School District is at the state average.


(Photo: Natalie Pate, Dec. 2015)

However, in the most recently recorded data for 2014 graduates, Oregon included modified diplomas, or diplomas earned by people with modified graduation requirements. Other states did not all include such data, said Kelly Carlisle, assistant superintendent for the district.

Carlisle said the district is working to increase its numbers.

“Everyone is interested in seeing graduation rates improve,” he said.

He said the finalized data for 2015 graduates will be released in the coming weeks, but these numbers give the district an idea of what they are dealing with.

Some students take longer than four years for various reasons, Carlisle said, but the district is working to increase the graduation rate in general by:

  • paying close attention to achievement data throughout the whole K-12 experience for a student, therefore reducing the chance of a child slipping through the cracks before it’s too late;
  • improving data methodologies to better compare Oregon statistics with other states;
  • switching to an eight period bell schedule, so more students have access to support classes, while still moving forward with graduation requirements; and
  • providing students with more academically rigorous classes, should they want them.

The district is finding ways to help high school students in the summer so they graduate closer to the four-year goal, Carlisle said.

Delegated Deputy Secretary John King said it is encouraging to see the national graduation rate on the rise.

“A high school diploma is absolutely critical, absolutely attainable and key to future success in college, in the workforce and in life,” King said. “But too many students never get their diploma, never walk across the graduation stage and while our dropout numbers are also decreasing, we remain committed to urgently closing the gaps that still exist in too many schools and in too many communities.”

The Department of Education has invested more than $1.5 billion in early learning, implemented strategies that improve achievement and close opportunity gaps, and awarded billions of dollars through such grant programs as Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, and School Improvement Grants, and expanded college access and affordability for families.

npate@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6745, or follow on Twitter @Nataliempate or http://www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist

2013-2014 four-year cohort graduation rates by district

  • Central: 73.20 percent
  • Dallas: 66.41 percent
  • Gervais: 76.40 percent
  • North Santiam: 72.8 percent
  • Salem-Keizer: 72.35 percent
  • Santiam Canyon: 75 percent
  • Silver Falls: 81.49 percent
  • Woodburn: 87.38 percent

Published by Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is a freelance journalist and author based in Salem, Oregon. She wrote about education for more than seven years at the Statesman Journal and now covers education and other topics throughout the Pacific Northwest. She is originally from Colorado and earned her B.A. in Politics and French from Willamette University.

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