Career tech grad rates 11 percentage points higher than state average


Career tech grad rates 11 percentage points higher than state average

Published 8:03 a.m. PT Jan. 26, 2017 | Updated 11:30 a.m. PT Jan. 30, 2017

Students who completed a career technical education course graduated at higher rates in the 2015-16 school year.

Data was released Thursday by the Oregon Department of Education, the first year the state included career technical education data.

The data showed career technical students had a graduation rate of 85.4 percent, compared to the statewide average for all students of 74.8 percent.

For students at Salem-Keizer’s Career and Technical Education Center, the numbers were even higher.

CTEC Principal John Honey said the center’s graduation rate is about 97 percent. Additionally, the center has a 94 percent attendance rate and 93 percent retention rate for juniors.

In the 2015-16 school year, CTEC had 154 students from McKay, McNary, North, South, Sprague, West and Roberts High Schools in the district.

The Salem-Keizer center has students from all traditional high schools in the district. When applying for courses at the center, students have to be on target, or close, to graduate.

“The other schools are preparing them really well and we get to reap the rewards,” Honey said.

Honey credits the success of the program and overall style of study to the application of the lessons.

The center and similar programs teach math, English, and other core subjects, but put the information in the context of creating and crafting. Instead of taking a test to show the teacher you remembered something, Honey said, the students have to demonstrate they have mastered a skill.

“Because kids can see the relationship (between what they are learning and what they do in the shop), math or English still might not be their favorite class, but … they are more willing to put in the time and do the work,”  he said.

Honey said the largest obstacle they are facing is the notion students have to go to college.

“I had a parent tell me, ‘I know my child applied (for CTEC), but I want you to deny it,’ ” he said. “When I asked why, the parent said, ‘Because my kid is better than that.’

“Success all boiled down to college,” Honey said.

He explained to the parent the applicability of the skills, whether the student decided to pursue college or not.

“There are lot’s of opportunities — why limit them?” he asked. “We’re in (career tech) because it’s a valuable thing. We want kids to think purposefully … and make informed decisions about their futures.”

With the passing of Measure 98, Salem-Keizer stands to receive the most money for career technical education.

All graduation and drop-out rate data can be found online at

Contact Natalie Pate at, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate and Facebook at

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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