REDMOND, OR -- All five Central Oregon school districts saw improvement in four-year graduation rates, according to numbers just released by the Oregon Department of Education. The statewide average was nearly 79% for the 2017-18 school year; that's a 2% increase from the previous year.
Bend-La Pine, Sisters and Redmond Schools are all higher than the Oregon average. Redmond Superintendent Mike McIntosh tells KBND News it affirms they’re on the right track, "We’ve gone from the low 70s, last year we were in the low 80s. And, I think we’ll continue that march upward as we get our kids to doing great things. We know that CTE, we know that choir, we know that band – that when kids are engaged, they tend to perform really, really well and so we’ve provided many, many options for our kids and they are, in fact, performing."
Redmond went from 79% to nearly 83%. Sisters rose from 86.5% to just over 89%. Bend-La Pine Schools increased about 3% to a record-high 81.9%. Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Shay Mikalson said in a statement, "While we are celebrating today, we also will not be satisfied until all of our students graduate ready for the future that they choose." The district has seen a 14% increase in the last seven years. Deputy Superintendent Jay Mathisen tells KBND News, while Marshall High again has the lowest rate in the district, it also saw the biggest increase, jumping 11% in a year, "When you have as many high schools as our district does, and you have a year where every school sees an increase over the prior year’s numbers, that’s awesome. And then, to go up over 3% in a single year, districtwide, it is exciting; we’re very, very pleased."
Mathisen says there’s still work to do because one in five students is still not graduating in four years. Although, he says it’s not realistic to think they’d ever hit 100%. "Some of those students are students with disabilities that lead them to earn what’s called an alternative certificate. And, their programming for their educational placement is best for that’s student, and it doesn’t include the credits needed for a diploma. Others, take an extra term or two to get there." He adds, "We’ve got ground we can gain from here and we expect to be doing that in the coming years. The interesting thing is, when you see a number like 81.9%, districtwide, the ground in front to be gained is just going to be harder ground. But, we hope to see numbers continue to increase each year between now and the next three and beyond."
Crook County Schools saw the biggest jump in the region, going from 72% to 78%; Jefferson County 509-J went from under 72%, to about 77.5%. Every individual high school in the tri-county area saw some level of improvement.
Updated 01/25/19 to reflect more information received from Bend-La Pine Schools.