U.S. High School Graduation Rate Highest Since 1976

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Wed, January 23 2013 at 6:16 PM, Updated: Wed, January 23 2013 at 6:45 PM

More kids are leaving high school with a diploma in hand across the United States.

"The stakes are much higher in the job market. Completing high school is no longer a luxury, it's really essential," said Dr. Phil Long, the Medford School District Superintendent.

New numbers show the national graduation rate is up, the highest it's been since 1976.

According to the Department of Education report, the average freshman graduation rate was 78.2% in the 2009-2010 school year, while Oregon's graduation rate was 76.3%.

"Oregon has lagged behind the national averages for graduation rates," began Long.

"The sad story for Oregon is we used to be a leader in funding and public education and now we're down near the bottom," he said.

But the Superintendent said the Medford School District in particular has done well. He estimates in the 2011-2012 school year they will have an almost 80% graduation rate.

"We actually have been increasing our graduation rate over the last eight years," said Long.

School districts all over the state are doing more with less. According to Long, the Medford School District has the same number of students they had 10-years ago, but due to funding cuts they have 125-130 fewer licensed staff serving kids.

Meantime, another recent study issued by the National Council on Teacher Quality gave Oregon a "D-" grade in how well the state prepares teachers for the classroom. According to the study, teachers need to be held to more rigorous testing standards before stepping foot in a classroom.

Education officials in the State of Oregon, however, have in the last few years changed the way they measure the graduation rate. It's expected they will release updated numbers for the Beaver state in the next week.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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