The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) released high school graduation rates for schools statewide today. Students in the Morrow County School District who graduated in the 2016-2017 school year have a four-year cohort rate of 77.84%. The four-year cohort rate means students who earned their diplomas within four years of high school. For the three high schools in the Morrow County School District – Boardman, Heppner and Irrigon – there were a total of 194 students in the four-year cohort.
Oregon’s statewide graduation rate is 76.65%.
Superintendent of Morrow County School District Dirk Dirksen has done some calculations about the class of 2017 graduates and those that did not graduate in the four-year timeframe.
Of the 194 four-year cohort students, there were 41 non-graduates in the group. Of those:
3 students received a GED
14 have returned to the school district and are on track to graduate or receive a GED this school year (2017-18)
3 students’ records were not received from another school district in time to be removed from the MCSD graduation list.
This leaves 21 non-graduates. Based on those facts and figures, Dirksen said, he calculates the district’s graduation rate as 89.18%.
So, what about those 21 other non-graduate students?
8 of those students moved out of state and the MCSD never received a records request from another district. In this instance, schools in Oregon must take responsibility for those students not graduating. In other words, those students are counted as non-graduates on the Morrow County School District’s rate, although maybe these students graduated, and maybe they did not.
This leaves 13 students. Dirksen said that in his opinion, these are the students the district was not able to help graduate in four years, which is still too many students.
Considering all those figures, 89.17% of the students in the 2016-17 school year either graduated, received a GED, re-enrolled or transferred to another school. “We are always striving for a 100% graduation rate, but the 89% is certainly not the 77.84% that the state has us report,” Dirksen said.
In nationwide graduation rates, Oregon usually ranks at the very bottom or close to it. Dirksen believes that comparisons between Oregon and other states are not always accurate – the way rates are calculated and reported vary greatly by state and may not be comparing the same things. “I truly believe that what I have depicted about MCSD is a sample of what happens across the state of Oregon regarding graduation rates. When looked at carefully and individually by district, our graduation rates are not the last in the nation, but our state report makes it look like we are,” Dirksen said.
Dirksen said that as long as there is one student that his district can support in receiving a diploma or a GED, they will. “My belief is that if a student needs more time to accomplish the task, and they are able to receive their diploma or GED in five or six years, the state should report that and recognize that as the responsibility of the district.”
Morrow County School District’s Completer Rate over the last 3 years, which includes Diplomas and GEDs earned, has averaged 84.73%.
Graduation rates for each district high school are:
Heppner Jr.-Sr. High School: 88%
Irrigon Jr.-Sr. High School: 80.26%
Riverside Jr.-Sr. High School: 86.08%
Superintendent Dirksen said he is pleased with the district’s results and continued improvement. “We have put some energy and focus into supporting students towards graduation. We have been monitoring attendance and student progress, communicating and supporting students so they stay on track to graduate. I am pleased and thankful for the relationships, support and dedication our teachers, counselors, administrators and wraparound support staff have displayed toward our students. I am also very appreciative of our students and families as we have all partnered to communicate, stay engaged and support one another so students in the Morrow County School District can be successful in meeting graduation goals,” Dirksen said.
More detailed information on the district’s graduation rates and rates for all school districts in Oregon can be found by visiting the ODE website.