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Estacada's graduation rate misrepresented

I would like to take a moment to apologize to all of you for a recent lead article in The Oregonian regarding Oregon’s high school graduation rates.

This article utilized a sizable graphic to depict the state of Oregon’s graduation rate and identified Estacada School District as the worst in the state.

Scott SullivanThe 31 percent “on-time graduation rate” listed is accurate, but once again fails to tell the whole story of what we, the Estacada School District, are doing for our students.

I have taken the time to write and phone the Oregonian’s Betsy Hammond, the author of the article, in an attempt to shed some light on what we do for students and to break down our four high school programs that contribute to the 31 percent statistic.

However, these attempts to provide “the whole” story went ignored by Hammond, and now I find myself needing to apologize to our community for a public embarrassment that truly is not warranted.

If you separate the data among the four schools that serve high school age students in the Estacada School District, you end up with the following graduation results for 2011-12:

• Estacada High School, 72 percent

• State of Oregon Average, 68 percent

• Estacada Alternative High School , 21 percent

• Estacada Web Academy , 16 percent

• Estacada Early College, 11 percent

I share this information in an attempt to open dialogue and to explain what our schools are doing for our students.

In our three non-traditional high schools, about 95 percent of the student body resides outside of the Estacada School District.

Many of these students have come to us because their home districts have either given up on them, not met their individual needs, and/or they are significantly behind their peers in graduation credits.

For those students forgotten or failed by other districts, for those students and families looking for more school choice and flexibility, and for those students working to earn an associate degree while in high school, our alternative programs are working diligently to meet their needs and to provide them with a new opportunity to learn.

For many of them it is their last opportunity and our staff is committed to educating all students enrolled in our district, no matter how long it takes.

For those students in our traditional high school — Estacada High School — I promise that we are not satisfied with our 72 percent graduation rate, and that we will continue to work to meet the state requirements and to meet the needs of our local students.

However, I am extremely proud of our students and staff for the many successes that they have accomplished. Below are a few highlights that I would like to share from last year:

• Earned 26-28 credits for their diploma (the state requirement is 24).

• 91 percent passed the Reading OAKS test (state average was 85 percent).

• 72 percent passed the Math OAKS test (state average was 67 percent).

• 69 percent passed the Writing assessment (state average was 68 percent).

• 69 percent passed the Science OAKS (state average was 65 percent).

• Earned $1.38 million in grants and scholarships.

• Have excelled in Art, Music, and Athletics.

• Have received local, regional and state honors.

• Made a positive difference in our local community.

This is just a brief sampling of the many accomplishments our students have while with us. We are proud of what they do and what so many of them have become.

The previous three years we have seen steady growth in our student assessment scores and we met Adequate Yearly Progress the last two year it was in place. However, we will not rest until we can honestly say that every student has had the opportunity to excel to their fullest, and I promise that we will work diligently to provide the necessary coursework to help our students graduate with a valuable learning experience that goes beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Scott Sullivan is principal of Estacada High School.




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