How race, economic status affect Oregon graduation rates


How race, economic status affect Oregon graduation rates

Published 8:02 a.m. PT Jan. 26, 2017 | Updated 3:03 p.m. PT Jan. 29, 2017

The 2015-16 high school graduation rate for almost all historically underserved student populations grew at a faster pace than the rate for other students , according to data released Thursday by the Oregon Department of Education.

“It shows the dedication of our teachers and school administrators that graduation rates are increasing across the board,” said Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor in a statement.

Statewide, according to the data, students of color were less likely to graduate than their white counterparts. Similarly, students who are economically disadvantaged graduated at a rate about 20 percentage points less than their financially secure peers.

While white students improved their graduation rate by 0,6 percentage points to 76.6 percent, Hispanic/Latino students improved by 2.0 percentage points to 69.4 percent and African American students improved 3.6 percentage points to 66.1 percent.

The data also showed these students were more likely to drop out.

Some schools are working hard to combat these issues.

West Salem High School has one of the lowest drop-out rates in the Salem-Keizer School District at less than 1 percent. West students have a four-year graduation rate of about 88 percent and a five-year graduation rate close to 92 percent.

Principal Ken Phillips said school administrators, staff, and faculty work hard to identify struggling students early on and provide them with the needed support and guidance to get them on track to graduate, no matter the time it takes.

“We place faces and names to the numbers,” he said. “Students all have a story.”

Phillips said the students struggling the most were the ones facing life issues, such as experiencing homelessness or working part-time to help parents pay bills.

“We are not perfect,” he said. “(About) 13 students dropped out last year; that is not acceptable.”

Phillips also said students having ownership and a sense of purpose with the school is important. But ultimately, he said, there isn’t any one-size-fits-all solution.

“I wish I had a magic pill I could give others,” he said. “But every kid is different. It takes everyone in the school (to be successful).”

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

Statewide data

Gains in the student groups where the largest graduation gaps exist:

  • African American students up 3.6 points to 66.1 percent (53.3 percent in 2011)
  • American Indian/Alaska Native students up 1.4 points to 56.4 percent (50.8 percent in 2011)
  • Hispanic/Latino students up 2.0 points to 69.4 percent (59.5 percent in 2011)
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students up 6.9 points to 70.1 percent (66.2 percent in 2011)
  • Ever English Learners (students who are now or ever have been classified as English Language Learners) up 4.2 points to 71.1 percent (58.0 percent in 2012, the first year of data collection for that group)
  • Limited English Proficient students up 1.7 points to 52.9 percent (49.2 percent in 2011)
  • Students with disabilities up 2.8 points to 55.5 percent (38.2 percent in 2011)

Every other student demographic group demonstrated gains:

  • Asian students up 0.5 points to 88.0 percent (80.7 percent in 2011)
  • White students up 0.6 points to 76.6 percent (69.1 percent in 2011)
  • Multi-Racial students up 1.7 points to 74.4 percent (69.1 percent in 2011)
  • Female students up 0.6 points to 78.4 percent (72.9 percent in 2011)
  • Male students up 1.3 points to 71.4 percent (64.3 percent in 2011)

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: