Bend La-Pine School District, like many others across the state, reported an improvement in graduation rates for the 2021-22 school year last week. But within the district, there was an outlier.
Districtwide, the graduation rate was 83.5%. And most schools in the district came in at more than 87%.
But La Pine High School was behind the curve at a 59.2% graduation rate.
“This is a community crisis and a community conversation. I think I would love to see them driving the conversation to get the input from the community around what are the barriers that kids and families are facing,” parent Angela Groves said.
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It’s a rate the district says is unsatisfactory.
“We are not pleased with the graduation rate for La Pine High School at this point,” executive director for Bend-La Pine high schools Katie Legace said. “Obviously, I know our community in La Pine feels the same way. Our teachers, our whole staff in La Pine and our community. So we’re gonna continue to work with those students and the staff in La Pine and support them in getting the graduation rates up.”
La Pine High School’s rates were flat from last year’s numbers, staying steady at 59%. But before that, the class of 2020 recorded a graduation rate of 76.7% — a more than 17% drop.
La Pine High School says struggles during the pandemic are a major reason for the drop.
“We had a number kids during the struggles of the last couple years shifted their focus in some regard to work and family,” La Pine High School principal Scott Olszewski said. “What that meant for some was a full disengagement from school, but for some it was partial engagement. So their engagement may be spotty at times.”
La Pine High School says it hopes its day programs will help students get back on track.
“If you look at our graduation rate from last year, you would see that we are nearly 20 points higher when the students have been in our CTE (Career and Technical Education) program,” Olszewski said. “If they’ve done four or more classes with a CTE program, their graduation rate was at 77.4%.”
As for Groves, she just wishes the district would be more transparent about where they’re falling short.
“I think the first step is awareness and acknowledgment and transparency, and that’s a really basic date metric that we are evaluating across communities. Let’s own it,” Groves said.
La Pine High School says it has hired more teachers, added more funding and more infrastructure for those popular progams that, so far, seem to be keeping student more engaged.
La Pine High School says when the students in the class of 2022 were freshman, they were on track to reach a graduation rate of 75%. This freshman class from last year has a rate of 87%.
School-Specific 4-year Cohort Graduation Rate for 2021-22
- Bend Senior High: 88.2%
- Bend Tech Academy at Marshall: 51.6%
- La Pine High: 59.2%
- Mountain View: 87%
- Realms High: 94.9%
- Summit: 95.8%