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Grad rate continues to climb

January 31, 2013

The on-time graduation rate in Portland Public Schools increased by 1 percentage point in 2012, the third year in a row that the rate has gone up. Among the 3,400 students who started school in 2008-09, a total of 63 percent graduated in four years.

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Of the students who started in a PPS neighborhood comprehensive or focus high school, 78 percent earned a regular diploma in four years.

PPS’ on-time graduation rate has now increased 10 points since Oregon first began reporting cohort graduation rates. The 10 point gain meets the improvement target set by the Portland School Board in 2010, two years earlier than originally projected. (Statewide, the graduation rate has increased two points over the past three years.)

Highlights from the class of 2012 include:

  • Madison’s graduation rate increased 8 percentage points to 71 percent – a 15 point increase in the past two years.
  • Franklin posted a 7 percentage point increase.

Both Madison’s and Franklin’s graduation rates include former Marshall Campus students who transferred to the schools following the Marshall closure.

  • Wilson saw a seven point increase.
  • Jefferson and Roosevelt both posted 4 percentage point increases. Roosevelt’s graduation rate has now increased by 15 percentage points over the past two years and Jefferson in up eight points in the same time frame.
  • Cleveland and Benson both saw 3 percentage point declines in their on-time graduation rate, but both schools remained well above the school district average.


Superintendent Carole Smith said, “Over the past two years, high school system reforms have brought greater equity and stability to PPS high schools, and a significant increase in our on-time graduation rate, thanks to the skill and hard work of teachers, principals and community partners. However, our graduation rate is not where it needs to be. This year’s incremental gain highlights our urgent need to accelerate our progress.”

The superintendent has charged a new High School Action Team to recommend additional instructional and student retention strategies to speed the pace of improvement in the PPS graduation rate.

Chief Academic Officer Sue Ann Higgens, who will lead the High School Action Team, noted that graduation rate gains at Roosevelt and Madison have coincided with federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) that have funded extended learning time, teacher training and parent involvement efforts.

Higgens said, “The strong gains we are seeing at schools that struggled in the past show that focused effort and adequate funding together can make a profound difference for a school.”

Achievement gap
The graduation rate achievement gap grew district-wide to 39 points (as measured by the difference in graduation rates between white students and Native Americans, the least well-served racial group over the past two years.)
Some student groups saw large gains: the on-time graduation rate for Hispanic students rose 5 points for the class of 2012 (to 55 percent) and the graduation rate for Multi-ethnic students rose 9 points.

Grant High School closed the achievement gap in graduation rates among white, black and Hispanic students. All three groups posted rates between 83-86 percent, with black students posting the highest rate. Franklin, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Wilson high schools all posted graduation rates for black students that were equal to or better than those for white students. Lincoln posted the highest overall rate at 89 percent. While a racial achievement gap was still present, graduation rates for every racial group were 80 percent or better. Lincoln also posted the highest rate for Latino students at 96 percent.

Who is included in a school’s graduation rate?
The four-year cohort rate encompasses outcomes for all students who enrolled in the PPS high school system between 2008 and 2012.

ODE assigns student outcomes to the last PPS-operated or charter school the student attended. Students who start at a neighborhood school, but later drop out of a community-based alternative school, are counted as dropouts from the neighborhood school. Students who start at a non-neighborhood high school, but then return to their neighborhood school and drop out, count against the neighborhood school. In the same way, students who leave a neighborhood school and graduate on-time from and alternative school count toward the neighborhood school's graduation rate.

After four years of high school, the state accounts for students in one of eight categories: regular diploma, adult diploma, modified diploma, extended diploma, alternative certificate, GED, continued enrollment or dropout.

 
 

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