Thursday, January 29, 2015 17:01
All four high schools’ graduation rates rise; achievement gaps narrow
Eugene School District 4J’s dropout rate shrank and the on-time graduation rate—the percentage of students who earned a diploma within four years of starting high school—rose significantly in 2013–14.
“The graduation rate increase is terrific news, and it’s particularly encouraging to see achievement gaps narrow among several groups of students. This is a strong signal that the changes we’ve put in place and the dedicated efforts of our staff are paying off,” says Superintendent Shelley Berman. “Yet we have a long way to go to reach our goal of 100% of students completing high school within five years. We’re committed to continuing our work to help all students succeed.”
Graduation rates up, dropout rates down
The on-time graduation rate across all of 4J rose nearly 8 percentage points over the previous year, from 64% to just under 72%, the highest it’s been since 2009. Our dropout rate shrank by a third, from nearly 6% in 2012–13 to just under 4% in 2013–14.
Good news at all high schools
At Churchill, North Eugene, Sheldon, South Eugene, the story’s the same — every comprehensive high school’s graduation rate rose in 2014. Dropout rates declined at every school, with a particularly large improvement in Eugene Education Options programs.
Achievement gaps narrowed
Graduation rates improved significantly for nearly every demographic group of 4J students, and also improved more in 4J than statewide for most groups of students.
There are particular highlights among some historically underserved populations: African American students (graduation rate up nearly 18%), English learners (nearly 16%), students with disabilities (nearly 14%), and economically disadvantaged students (nearly 12%). Despite these successes, achievement gaps remain. The pattern of gaps is similar in 4J and Oregon.
More of our students are included in the number
The Oregon Department of Education this year has changed the four-year graduation rate calculation to include more students who completed graduation requirements on time but were not counted in previous years. The new method is more consistent with states across the country and more accurately reflects students’ well-earned successes.
In previous years only students who received regular diplomas within four years of starting high school were counted in the graduation rate. On-time graduation rates now include modified diplomas earned by students with disabilities, as well as students who have met the requirements to earn their diploma within four years but opt to stay enrolled for an additional year in a fifth-year program. Eugene School District 4J offers this opportunity through the 4J ACTS career technical education program that gives students a strong college start at Lane Community College.
4J’s graduation rates improved even aside from the effect of this sensible change.
There’s still work to be done
Our goal is to have 100% of students complete high school within five years, and we’re working to get there. We expect to see graduation rates continue to improve as a result of our investments. Our strategies include:
- Investing in quality teaching at all school levels.
- Providing more instructional time for high school students, including full schedules for all ninth graders.
- Expanding opportunities for students to stay on track for graduation, including the AVID college readiness program that helps students at all 4J middle and high schools build skills for high school and college success.
- Strengthening opportunities for students to earn a diploma over more than four years, including the Early College and Career Options (ECCO) program and the 4J ACTS career technical education program.
Superintendent Berman says, “As a system, we have been strongly focused on quality teaching and learning. We’ve expanded the AVID college readiness program systemwide to all of our middle and high schools, and it is making a significant difference. We’ve focused on attendance to help ensure students show up to learn. Our students have fuller class schedules because we’ve invested in adding high school teachers and changed to a more efficient trimester schedule. And every teacher and staff member has been working hard, making great efforts and making a difference under often challenging circumstances. While there is still work to be done, it’s exciting to see our efforts begin to result in improved graduation rates.”