PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon’s high school class of 2022 had the second-highest four-year graduation rate ever recorded in the state, according to the Oregon Department of Education.
ODE released its annual graduation report on Thursday morning, which revealed the graduation rate for students at the state level, and also showed results for individual counties, high schools, races, socioeconomic statuses and more.
Across all Oregon schools during the 2021-22 school year, the average graduation rate was recorded at 81.3% — a percentage that beats out the No. 2 title previously held by the class of 2021. The graduation rate for the 2020-’21 school year was just 80.6%.
A previous report from the Oregon Audits Division identified a few factors that affect success in K-12 education, such as performance monitoring and clear, enforceable district standards. Withstanding those obstacles, Oregon schools have managed to raise their graduation rates after the pandemic put a halt to in-person learning.
The year-to-year improvement throughout all student groups is good news for the state of Oregon, which has had historically low graduation rates.
“When we combine the tremendous resilience of Oregon’s youth, the courageous, tireless, work of our educators, and the individualized, student centered resources made available through the Student Success Act and other key initiatives, we’re able to make meaningful progress for Oregon’s students,” ODE Director Colt Gill said in a release. “There is more work to do, and we are ready to keep working to make sure all students have what they need to succeed.”
There was a stark difference in graduation rates for students in certain groups, including those who are experiencing homelessness or are in foster care. While about four in five students from the total class of 2022 graduated, a mere 58.6% of students experiencing homelessness graduated and 48.4% of students in foster care graduated.
For Portland Public Schools, there was an 85.68% graduation rate, which was the highest it’s been since 2010, and for Multnomah County, it was 79.12%.
“We nod towards it, we acknowledge it, but we’re not at rest. We won’t be at rest until 100% of our students are not only graduating, but experiencing success in their life after school,” said Kimberlee Armstrong, Chief Academic Officer for PPS. “It’s important for us to know every student by name, need, and struggle through to graduation. It’s important to make sure that we have interventions and preventions in place.”
Overall, there were 37,814 Oregon high school graduates in spring 2022.
Educators attribute the latest increase in graduation rates to additional investments made at the classroom level and tireless work from teachers.
But some critics point to recently relaxed graduation requirements, as students no longer need to pass standardized tests involving essential learning skills.
Senate Bill 744 put a pause on graduation testing requirements for the next few years, allowing officials to review its impacts. But the state maintains that Oregon still has some of the most stringent high school credit requirements in the nation.
“Whether the graduation requirement is tweaked next year or the year after, or there are some other systems that are put in place, we’re confident in what we’re doing and the instructional priorities that we have here,” Armstrong said.
In a statement, Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek said “focused leadership and increased accountability” will help the state maintain this upward trend in graduation rates.
“All of our education investments must be paired with specific strategies to ensure we know how the dollars that are spent are connected to the education priorities that Oregonians care about,” Kotek added.