BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools continue to outpace the state graduation rate. In the past six years, the district’s rate rose from just over 68%, for the class of 2011, to nearly 79% for the class of 2017. The 79% rate is the district's highest on record, and is 2% higher than the statewide average.
Bend High Graduation coach Matt Kitchen says there has been a push in recent years to help at-risk students long before their senior year, "We find that the ninth grade year is essential for keeping kids on track. If a student can finish their ninth grade year with two or less ‘F’s, they are exponentially at a greater probability of graduating."
Determining which kids are at-risk is key to the district's approach. "So," he tells KBND News, "We focus hard on those incoming freshman. We identify those kids in middle school as having certain risk factors: attendance issues, behavior issues, low test scores, grades, a multitude of things. So, we try to intervene early with kids that we think are at a greater risk of not being able to finish in that four-year timespan without extra support and help." Kitchen says those students are then put in programs like Freshman Academy, "We place them into smaller classes, sheltered classes, where they receive extra support and time. It’s not a watered down education, it’s not less, it’s not anything like that; it just is more support. We’ve found that to be successful. In fact, this is the fourth year that it has been in its operation, and so we are tracking our graduation rates, seeing the impact." Kids from that first Freshman Academy class are now seniors and Kitchen hopes it will lead to even higher grad rates, for the class of 2018.
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