Oregon's high school graduation rate continues upward trajectory

Oregon’s high school graduation rate is inching upward – slowly.

That’s according to the latest data released Thursday by the Oregon Department of Education.

When compared to the Class of 2016, the latest figures show that Oregon has increased its four-year graduation rate since the year before by 1 percent. Since the Class of 2014, it has increased almost three percent.

The department noted that increases in graduation rates rose at a faster rate than the overall graduation rate for most of the populations of students historically underserved, especially among African American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Ever English Learners students.

The state compared the graduation rates of today to those from 2011 for students who fall into those historically underserved categories. That year is significant, because then-Gov. John Kitzhaber took steps to reform the state’s education system and refocus it on improving its dismal graduation rate.

It’s an effort that current Gov. Kate Brown has largely adopted and pursued.

(Below: Increases in other student demographic groups. Graphic: Susan Effenberger/KATU)

While the numbers are encouraging, Oregon is still near the bottom when compared to states nationwide. Last October, the U.S. Department of Education reported that Oregon only led two other states, Nevada and New Mexico, in successfully graduating high school students.

And Oregon is still a long way from its ambitious goal of 100 percent high school graduation by 2025 under its “40-40-20” plan passed by lawmakers in 2011.

Still, the latest numbers for education policymakers is encouraging.

“My goal is that students graduate high school with a plan for their futures, and we should celebrate 1,300 more Oregon students charting promising paths,” Brown said in a statement with the release of the latest statistics. “I remain committed to improving Oregon’s graduation rates, and will prioritize investments in the upcoming legislative session that empower communities and educators to improve graduation rates, particularly for historically underserved and rural communities.”

Brown’s Education Innovation Officer Colt Gill praised collaboration among education stakeholders as a driving force in the improvement.

“These rate increases are encouraging signs of the impact that can occur when communities, educators, and schools work together to create equitable opportunities, forge strong relationships with students and families, and address the unique needs of each of our students,” he said.

Go to the Oregon Department of Education website to view the graduation rates.

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