Statewide dropout rates continue to increase for minority students

The dropout rate for high schools statewide may have decreased last school year, but in the Tigard-Tualatin district the number of dropouts actually increased.

The Oregon Department of Education released the dropout numbers last week. The ODE press release started with the bold-faced headline 'Oregon's dropout rate hits all time low at 4.1 percent.'

The statewide rate decreased by .1 percent from last school year's 4.2 percent rate. But in the Tigard-Tualatin district, the number of dropouts increased.

Tigard's dropout rate actually stayed the same at about 2.6 percent, said district spokeswoman Susan Stark Haydon. At Tualatin the rate increased from 1.9 percent to 2.1 percent.

'We don't want to lose any kids,' Stark Haydon said. 'So we're not happy. But when it's an increase of six kids out of 4,000 high school students, it's hard to gauge.'

The actual number of dropouts as defined by the state only increased by six students at the two district high schools.

In 2005-2006, Tigard had an 88.7 percent graduation rate with 53 students identified as dropouts. The year before, Tigard High had a graduation rate of 89.8 percent with 51 students identified as dropouts.

The same trend was observed for Tualatin High. In 2005-2006, the school had a 90.8 percent graduation rate with 38 students identified as dropouts. Those numbers are down from the 92 percent graduation rate for 2004-2005 when the school identified 34 students as dropouts.

Stark Haydon said that one student is still too many to drop out. The district is continuing programs designed to keep kids in school, Stark Haydon said, including the new secondary literacy program.

While the statewide decrease is a step in the right direction, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo noted that more needed to be done to increase the statewide graduation rate to 100 percent. And the dropout numbers also still showed a higher rate of dropouts for minorities.

While white students were shown to have decreased their dropout rates to 3.3 percent, the statewide data showed that all minority groups had seen an increase in dropouts.

Asian students had a 2.7 percent dropout rate, a .5 percent increase from last school year. African Americans had a dropout rate of 6.4 percent, a .4 percent increase from the previous school year. Native American students had a 6.6 percent dropout rate, a 1 percent increase from last school year.

Hispanics were shown to have an 8.4 percent dropout rate, a .3 percent increase from last school year.

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