Lake Oswego School District grad rate among state's highest at 92.45%
The Lake Oswego School District is among only a handful of the state's 197 school districts that recorded four-year graduation rates above the 90th percentile last year, the Oregon Department of Education announced this week.
The LOSD as a whole saw its four-year graduation rate increase from 91.67 percent in 2015-16 to 92.45 percent in 2016-17 — among the highest rates in Oregon, according to data released to the public on Thursday.
Both Lake Oswego High and Lakeridge High excelled in the report, with each of the LOSD high schools recording graduation rates that were significantly above the state average.
And that's cause for celebration, according to LOSD Superintendent Heather Beck.
"Graduation is the ultimate outcome of a system that meets the needs of each student in every grade level," she said. "Our graduation rates are evidence of an outstanding educational system that begins with success in kindergarten. Our elementary and middle school staff are foundational to students being on track to graduate on time, and I am proud to say our we are all moving in the right direction."
Beck credited the "purposeful use of test data and other assessments" for helping the district target students who need support on the path to graduation.
"We have employed effective interventions led by highly qualified teachers throughout the entire K-12 system," Beck said. "The scores we receive drive our decisions on how and where to place these critical resources."
Assistant Superintendent Michael Musick, who has been tapped to serve as interim superintendent when Beck leaves the district in July, also said that Response to Intervention (RTI) programs piloted and implemented at both high schools over the past three years have led to higher graduation rates by keeping students on track. (Officially, "on track" means fewer than two failing grades during the freshman year.)
"In short, our graduation rate has increased because we make long-term commitments to support student success through the use of tutoring centers and other interventions, and we know who to help because the 'on-track' indicator is one of the most important benchmarks that is predictive of our graduation rates," Musick said. "The future looks promising for both of our high schools because of the purposeful and strategic work our staff have put into this process."
Lakeridge High School has seen its four-year grad rates skyrocket over the past four years — from 88.49 percent in 2013-14 to 91.57 percent in 2014-15, 92.83 percent in 2015-16 and 95.09 percent this year.
The Pacers have shown dramatic improvement in several sub-groups as well, according to the ODE report, notching big gains in 2016-17 for Blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, students with disabilities and Talented and Gifted students.
"We are proud that Lakeridge High School's graduation rates are at an all-time high. This is a testament to the extremely dedicated and caring faculty and staff, supportive and trusting parents and guardians, and our engaged, curious and hardworking students," Principal Jennifer Schiele said. "Our graduation rate is and will continue to be a focus for all of the Pacer Family until we have a 100 percent graduation rate and each student is prepared for college or career."
Lake Oswego High School's four-year grad rates have shown a slow, gradual decline in recent years. But as at Lakeridge, the numbers are way above the state average: 92.55 percent in 2013-14, 91.75 percent in 2014-15, 91.12 percent in 2015-16 and 90.40 percent this year.
LOHS saw most of its sub-group graduation rates remain essentially level. Rates for Blacks/African Americans and economically disadvantaged students rose, but the ODE report did show decreases for Hispanics/Latinos, students with disabilities and English language learners.
"Our goal is a 100 percent graduation rate, and that is not a quixotic goal. We think we can do it," LOHS Principal Rollin Dickinson told The Review. "Though we have been stuck at an admirable 91 percent four-year graduation rate for years, we have put new systems of support in place and have seen our on-track-to-graduate rate leap to 98.2 percent. We have such great students and teachers and are confident that with the adjustments we are making to our support systems and how we approach learning, instruction and assessment, all of our students will learn deeply and graduate."
Together, the two high schools had an average four-year graduation rate of 92.45 percent in the 2016-17 report. That's an increase from 91.67 percent last year, 91.04 percent in 2014-15 and 90.02 percent in 2013-14. Those rates are all far above the state average, which has widely been reported to be one of the worst in the nation despite some improvement in recent years.
The average four-year graduation rate for all of Oregon in 2016-17 was 76.65 percent, according to the ODE report, which is about two percentage points higher than the previous year and 4.7 percentage points higher than two years ago.
Oregon officials said this week that they are particularly proud of the improvements made by students of color, who have for years experienced an achievement gap with their white peers.
"We are encouraged by the work underway to make our schools welcoming and effective for all students, which has contributed to better performance for those who have been historically underserved," said Acting Deputy Superintendent Colt Gill. "However, there is much more to be done to make sure all students have the tools and support necessary to reach graduation."
Oregon's Hispanic and Latino students, for example, experienced a 7 percentage point jump in the last three years. Their graduation rate now stands at 72.5 percent, nearly on par with their white peers.
Black and Native American students continue to struggle on the whole. According to the ODE report, graduation rates for those groups were the lowest at 67.6 percent and 59.1 percent, respectively. Asian students were the ethnicity with the highest graduation rate, at 88.9 percent. White students (66.5 percent of potential graduates) graduated at a 78 percent rate.
The newest data set that the state is now tracking seems to be the most indicative of trouble at school. Out of the nearly 4,000 high school seniors considered homeless, only half graduated on time. On the bright side, there continues to be a correlation between graduation rates and enrollment in career-technical education (CTE) classes. Even students with small amounts of these hands-on programs, such as woodshop and mechanics, seem to succeed.
A student with just half a credit of CTE graduates at a rate of 86.3 percent, according to the ODE; those who concentrate on CTE, with a full credit or more, graduated at a 91.7 percent rate.
"Hands-on learning awakens students to the power of their own potential, and connects classroom with career," Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement. "That kind of engagement helps students cross the stage at graduation and equips them for next steps, whether that's college or a job. I am dedicated to ensuring that students, communities and districts have what they need for all students to graduate with a plan for their future."
Brown was criticized last year for not fully funding the requirements of Measure 98, which voters passed in 2016 to create an earmark for high school graduation boosters like CTE programs. The budget passed by the Legislature only funded half of the cost, according to Measure 98 proponents Stand for Children.
Meanwhile, several metro-area school districts echoed the LOSD's performance and did well in the latest report. The Sherwood School District posted a four-year graduation rate of 95.26 percent in 2016-17, while the West Linn-Wilsonville School District recorded a rate of 93.04. That compares to 85.88 percent in Beaverton, 83.59 percent in Tigard-Tualatin and 77.92 percent in Portland.
The Riverdale School District's four-year graduation rate was 89.47 percent, the state report said.