The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) recently released report cards for every school in the state, reporting on multiple areas from the 2018-19 school year. Irrigon Jr/Sr High School had some scores to be proud of. In several areas, the school had better rates than the state averages:
Regular Attenders 81% (state is 80%)
On-Time Graduation 81% (state is 79%)
Five-Year Completion (students earning a high school diploma or GED within five years)
89% (state is 85%)
Freshman On-Track to Graduate 98% (state is 85%)
According to Principal Ryan Keefauver, school staff and students are proud of the work they have been doing and the results. For example, if you break down the graduation rate into sub-categories, ELL (English Language Learner) students have an 85% graduation rate, higher than the school-wide rate. “We have really been focusing on student groups to make sure they are receiving the support they need,” Keefauver said.
Last year, the school focused on improving math scores. On Fridays, when students are not at school, staff did a lot of Professional Development centered on leaving the old-school model of math instruction behind and embracing new engagement strategies. Keefauver said these teacher-led sessions focused on asking math questions differently, not just solving equations but leading students through the whole thought process and understanding different learning styles like visual/auditory/tactile learners. “We shifted our thinking from solution-focus to understanding process. Our overarching goal and mission is to engage ALL learners,” he said.
The efforts paid off. There was five percent growth in math achievement levels for all student groups. The median growth rate for all students rose from 22% in 2017-18 to 36.5% in 2018-19. However, Keefauver said they know they have more work to do.
Morrow County School District’s commitment to Wraparound services has also helped Irrigon students. CARE coordinators bring medical, dental and community social services to students and families at their school. Keefauver said that eliminating some roadblocks that cause students to miss school and communicating that school is a safe environment have made a difference.
One area the school knows they need to work on is the College-Going rate, students who enroll in a two or four year college within one year of completing high school. They use the College Possible program to support students with testing, scholarships and college applications, plus take them to visit colleges. Keefauver said they have seen an increase in students enrolling in those community colleges and universities they visit.
The bottom line at Irrigon Jr/Sr High, Keefauver said, is that when students leave at the end of high school, they have completed something, a diploma or a GED. “We don’t force the students into a box, we go out of our way to find a pathway that works for kids.”