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TTSD, Sherwood, outperform state with graduation numbers

Tigard-Tualatin and Sherwood continue to outperfrom the state average when it comes to graduating students, but dipped slightly compared to previous years, new data from the Oregon Department of Education shows.Tigard-area schools continue to graduate more students than most others in the state, according to a new report by the Oregon Department of Education.

According to the report, Tigard-Tualatin and Sherwood school districts outperformed the statewide average and graduated more students than many other districts across Washington County.

It’s a spot that the two school districts are familiar with. The districts regularly outperform the state in graduation rates. In 2011, Tualatin High School was highlighted by the state for its high graduation rate.

The report shows the graduation rates for students in the 2014-15 school year, calculating how many students completed high school after four years. The data also showcases dropout rates for districts and schools.

Statewide, only about 74 percent of students graduated on time; Oregon ranks as one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to graduation rates.

In 2014, the state changed the way it calculates four-year graduation rates to include modified diplomas, which are given to students with special needs.

That said, the Tigard-Tualatin School District slipped in its graduation rates, compared to previous years. About 83 percent of Tigard-Tualatin students graduated on-time last year. That’s compared to more than 85 percent the previous year.

As with last year, the district’s girls graduated at a higher rate than boys. About 90 percent of Tigard-Tualatin girls graduated on time, compared to 81 percent of boys.

"The thing about our district is that our demographics mirror the state's," said Susan Stark Haydon, a spokeswoman with the district. "The fact that we can graduate kids at a higher level is something that we all should be proud of."

At the school level, more Tigard High students graduated on time in 2015 compared to the previous year. The school rose from an 82 percent graduation rate to 84 percent.

Tualatin High School dropped to an 88 percent graduation rate, compared to 90.6 percent the previous year.

There are still plenty of areas for improvement. The district’s graduation rates for students with disabilities and English learners still hovers in the 60 percent range; one of four Hispanic students in the district does not graduate on time, according to Thursday’s data.

"Obviously we want to keep improving," Stark Haydon said. "That's an effort that we’ll be making. We have ability to do it, I think. We have committed staff and people will continue to make strides."

Tualatin High School graduated more than 80 percent of its English Language Learners and economically disadvantaged students. It graduated 75 percent of its students with disabilities.

But up the road at Tigard High, those students struggle more. Only 66 percent of English Language Learners and 63 percent of students with disabilities graduated on time. Economically disadvantaged students fared slightly better, with a 70 percent on-time graduation rate.

The reason for that disparity isn’t clear. Both schools have about the same number of students in each of those categories and have the same curriculum.

Stark Haydon said that Tualatin High School has made a concerted effort to keep students in class, which may have attributed to the difference in statistics.

"They are relentless with making contact and not letting them go," Stark Haydon said. "Tigard High is looking at doing a similar program."

In Sherwood, the district stayed within a fraction of a percent of its numbers from last year, graduating more than 92 percent of its students on time.

Durham Center, an alternative school for struggling students in the Tigard-Tualatin School District, fared the worst, with a less than 60 percent graduation rate. It’s a significant drop for the school, which graduated 80 percent of its seniors on time in 2014. School officials say that those numbers are likely skewed by the relatively small number of students enrolled in the program.

"There are fewer students in total, so any changes in numbers will have a bigger impact," Stark Haydon said.

The alternative school also made some changes to its high school completion program, Stark Haydon said, which may have led to fewer than normal graduates.

In addition, Stark Haydon said a new program aimed at keeping kids from dropping out of school is just getting off the ground at the district.

"We have some kids who have traditionally struggled that we’ve gotten back into school and working toward graduation. We're working on it, but it's going to be a process."