Central Oregon school districts reported record-high graduation rates in 2020, despite seniors spending the last three months of the academic year attending class virtually.
The statewide graduation rate for the class of 2019-20 is 82.6%, up 2.6 percentage points over the previous year and the highest graduation rate ever recorded in Oregon, according to data released Thursday by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE).
The increase means the four-year graduation rate has increased more than 10 percentage points compared to six years ago.
Bend-La Pine Schools recorded its highest graduation rate on record – 85.9% – jumping more than 5 percentage points and marking an increase of 17.7 percentage points over the last decade, according to the report.
“These rates are encouraging and we know they reflect the hard work on the part of our staff and the Class of 2020, who completed the final three months of the school year under the stress of a pandemic,” said Lora Nordquist, Interim Superintendent for Bend-La Pine Schools. “Graduation is the culmination of four years of work and has been an important focus for our high schools for years and today’s gains are part of a larger upward trend.”
Nordquist noted that the graduation rates were likely impacted by the pandemic, although it is challenging to say by what magnitude.
“Our celebrations are tempered today, as we do not know what the long-term impact of the pandemic and distance learning will have on our students and the graduation rate. We remain committed to serving all of our students and our staff have been working tirelessly to serve all students and meet their needs.”
All high schools in the district remained the same or recorded an increase in graduation rate over last year:
- Bend Senior High: 91.2% (unchanged)
- Bend Tech Academy at Marshall: 62.7% (up 16.5 percentage points)
- La Pine High: 76.7% (up 6.4 percentage points)
- Mountain View High: 92.1% (up 5.8 percentage points)
- Summit High: 94.4% (up 4.4 percentage points)
Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson has made improving graduation rates one of her top priorities since arriving at the helm in 2018.
Three years later, Crook County School District posted its highest district-wide graduation rate since 2008 of 80%. That’s also an 8% increase over 2019’s graduation rate of 72%.
The district-wide graduation rate is a combination of rates among Crook County High School and the alternative schools of Pioneer, Rimrock, and COIC. Crook County High School’s graduation rate of 91% is consistent with outcomes since 2016.
“We’re in the business of serving and helping students and we owe it to our community to keep moving the needle and improve graduation rates,” Johnson said. “Students who graduate with a high school diploma are more likely to find a job and have lower rates of unemployment as adults. While we’re happy with the results, our work is far from over. I’ll be collaborating with the school board and our principals to find new and innovative ways to reach more students in the future.”
The Redmond School District’s districtwide four-year and five-year cohort graduation rates improved and the district’s one-year dropout rate dropped in the 2019-20 school year.
Of the 624 students who were freshmen in 2016-17, 87.8% graduated within four years in 2020. That is a full 5 percentage points above the state, which posted an 82.6% graduation rate.
Of the 675 students who were freshmen in 2015-16, 85.5% graduated within five years in 2020, and 88.3% of them completed school within five years — meaning they earned a diploma, extended or modified diploma or GED within five years.
That is above the state’s 87.2% five-year completer rate.
“The district’s improvement in graduation rates is directly tied to a collective effort from teachers, counselors, principals and parents to ensure each student had every opportunity to graduate on time,” said David Burke, Redmond School District’s Director of Secondary Programs. “We are excited about the continuous and steady increase in graduation year over year. Although the overall numbers are good to recognize, it’s the individual students we celebrate. For the students who did not graduate last spring, we know them by name and are working hard to help them either earn their diploma or GED.”
The district’s one-year dropout rate dropped from 4% in 2018-19 to 2.3% in 2019-20. That is in line with the state’s 2.38% dropout rate in 2019-20.