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Oregon 2014 Graduation Rate

Source: Statesman Journal

Joce DeWitt, Statesman Journal 9:51 a.m. PST January 30, 2015


 

With a graduation rate of 72 percent, Oregon's class of 2014 saw an improvement over the previous year, which made headlines for being the lowest of any state.

The Oregon Department of Education released the 2013-2014 graduation rates for the cohort that entered high school in the 2010-2011 school year. The report is meant to track how many students graduate within a four-year period.

The cohort method shows the year the students entered high school and determines their outcome after four years, said Jenni Deaton, administrative specialist for the Oregon Department of Education.

News spread earlier this week about Oregon ranking last in the country for the 2013 graduation rate. But on Thursday the state said the calculation method shifted in the 2013-2014 school year to be more consistent across states. The change led to two additional groups of students getting added to the calculation: students who received a modified diploma or met the requirements to graduate but decided to stay a fifth year.

"These changes make Oregon's four-year graduation rate more of an apples to apples comparison with other states, a significant group of whom already include these calculations in their reported rates. While adding these two groups still doesn't equate to a true one-to-one comparison, it gets us closer," Deaton wrote in an email.

There were 45,674 students in the statewide cohort. The Salem-Keizer School District, with a cohort of 3,005 students, had a graduation rate very close to that of the state at 72.35 percent.

Assistant superintendent Kelly Carlisle said that the district is pleased to not only be above the state average, but also to be on the upswing.

"Once again we're a little bit above the state average," Carlisle said, "which we're pleased about. And the dropout rate is lower than the state average. We want to continue to see good trends moving in the right direction both for us and the state."

The Salem-Keizer School District is composed of eight high schools. All of them had a rate between the range of 74 and 88 percent, except the Early College High School, which had a 97.78 percent graduation rate, and Roberts High School, which had a 12.8 percent graduation rate. The Early College High School serves under-served students in the district by creating a pathway to classes at Chemeketa Community College. Roberts High School provides specific programs to support students who are at risk of not completing secondary education, including the teen parents program and sophomore connections for students who struggled their freshman year.

Comparatively, Portland Public Schools had 3,318 students in the 2013-2014 cohort with a graduation rate of 70.4 percent.

"Knowing the challenge that so many of our students face, it's gratifying to see that overall our district is helping pull up the state average," Carlisle said.

And speaking to focused investments, the Salem-Keizer School District is in its fifth year of the High School Graduation Initiative — a federal grant that has helped bolster programs targeted towards students who are on track to drop out.

Additionally, the district has made efforts toward helping staff.

"We've continued to invest in professional development of our staff.," Carlisle said.

Officials said another factor behind the improvement is the method of calculation: who is considered a graduate and who is not.

"Including these students not only makes our rate more comparable with other states, it fairly recognized students who have completed the requirements for graduation after four years. The increase can also be attributed to focused efforts in districts around the state on creating multiple pathways for students to be successful," Deaton said.

At 68.6 percent, Oregon's graduation rate for the class of 2013 was better only than Idaho, whose rate was not available in the Department of Education's report.

Where Oregon's 2014 numbers fall in comparison to other states was not available Thursday morning.

Topping the list was Iowa with a rate of 89.7 percent. Idaho's information was not available because the state had an approved request to report their rate late. Also ranking below Oregon on the list were the District of Columbia at 62.3 percent. Information for Puerto Rico also was not available.

The Department of Education said to be cautious in comparing rates between states and years, however. Starting in the 2009 school year, states could calculate graduation rates using a method of their choice, as long as the number showed how many students graduated in four years.

Oregon's cohort graduation rate in 2011-2012 was 68.4 percent, which placed Oregon higher only than Nevada. In 2010-2011, the rate was 66.4 percent and in 2009-2010 the rate was 66.4 percent, barely up from the year before that had 66.2 percent.

The Salem-Keizer School District performed better than the state average in 2013. With an adjusted cohort of 3,005 students in the 2012-2013 school year, Salem-Keizer's graduation rate was 72.05 percent — a notable increase from the year before, which saw 68.99 percent.

jdewitt@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6714 or follow on Twitter.com @Joce_DeWitt

Salem-Keizer cohort graduation rates by school

Early College High School: 97.78 percent

West Salem High School: 88.6 percent

Sprague High School: 85.95 percent

South Salem High School: 84.42 percent

McNary High School: 82.24 percent

McKay High School: 76.81 percent

North Salem High School: 74.25 percent

Roberts High School: 12.8 percent