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4J Graduation Rate Reaches All-Time High

Grad rates rise districtwide and several achievement gaps narrow 

4J graduation rates have climbed to an all-time high. More students in Eugene School District 4J graduated on time than in any previous year since the Oregon Department of Education began consistently recording the data, according to official 2020 graduation rates released by the agency in January.

Eugene School District 4J is focused on helping all students complete high school ready for college, careers and life. While there is still much work to be done to reach this goal, these successes are noteworthy. We’re proud of our 4J students and staff and their hard work to achieve these gains.

4J’s graduation rates are rising

Eugene School District’s on-time, four-year graduation rate in 2020 was 81.7%—3.9 percentage points higher than the previous school year, ahead of the Lane County average of 78.8%, and coming within 1 percentage point of the statewide average of 82.6%, which also is a new high.

The most significant increase occurred in Eugene Education Options, encompassing ECCO and other alternative high school programs, which many students enter behind schedule on completing graduation requirements. EEO’s four-year graduation rate more than doubled, from 18.1% in 2019 to 39.5% in 2020.

The district’s career technical education (CTE) programs played an important role in helping students succeed in high school. The on-time, four-year graduation rate rose to 94.7% for those students with a concentration in CTE (having successfully completed at least two courses in a single CTE program of study), and to 89% for students who participated in any CTE courses. Thanks to the passage of the 2018 school bond measure and state funding support from the High School Success Act, the district is expanding CTE programs at all four comprehensive high schools.

The dropout rate for 4J students also was the lowest ever on record, 2.7%—down from 3.6% in 2019 and 4.4% in 2018.

Additional students complete high school in a fifth year or with an alternate credential. These other high school graduation and completion rates were also higher in 2020 than any previous year since the Oregon Department of Education began consistently recording the data.

Every increase in on-time graduation rates and other measures of high school completion means a real difference for students’ futures.

Some opportunity and achievement gaps have narrowed

Graduation rates improved for most but not all groups of 4J students in 2020.

Some of the most significant improvements in 4-year graduation rates were for traditionally underserved groups of students: Native American students ( 20.9%), homeless students ( 18.4%), Black / African-American students ( 17.9%), students navigating poverty ( 5.6%), Hispanic / Latino students ( 3.7%), and students with disabilities ( 2.7%).

Despite these gains, opportunity and achievement gaps persist, as they do across Oregon and the United States.

2020 on-time graduation rates in Eugene School District 4J 

  2020 on-time grads 2019 on-time grads 2018 on-time grads Change over
1 year
(% points)
Change over
2 years
(% points)
Eugene School District 4J 81.7% 77.8% 74.4% 3.9% 7.3%
Churchill High School 86.3% 90.1% 81.2% 3.8% 5.1%
North Eugene High School 86.2% 86.4% 81.4% 0.2% 4.8%
Sheldon High School 90.4% 90.4% 88.3%   0.0% 2.1%
South Eugene High School 92.1% 91.6% 91.4% 0.5% 0.7%
Eugene Education Options (alternative high school programs) 39.5% 18.1% 20.7% 21.4% 18.8%

An unusual end to the year 

The Oregon Department of Education altered some graduation requirements in 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused the emergency closure of school buildings in March 2020. State testing was suspended, with a waiver from federal assessment requirements, and the state also suspended the Personalized Learning and the Essential Skills graduation requirements, which require students to show proficiency in areas of reading, writing and math. Seniors who were on track to graduate on time when school buildings closed in March were awarded diplomas.

These changes in the last trimester of seniors’ final year may have had some impact, but state education officials do not think they significantly affected graduation rates or explained all of the increase.

About the numbers

The on-time or “four-year cohort” graduation rate tracks students beginning in ninth grade and measures how many of those students graduate within four years. The rate is adjusted for students moving in or out of the district. Students who take an extra year to graduate are included in a five-year graduation rate.

Students who complete their high school education by alternate means, such as a GED or an extended diploma, are not included in the graduation rate but are included in high school completion rates.

The districtwide graduation rate also includes students in charter schools and alternative education providers, in addition to the 4J high schools listed above.

For more information about high school graduation rates in Oregon, see www.oregon.gov/ode.

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