MEDFORD, Ore.- Oregon schools and school districts are getting report cards of their own. The Oregon Department of Education released its annual “At-A-Glance” evaluations today, which looks at how schools handled this past school year. The pandemic had a clear impact on many measurable metrics in Oregon school districts, like On-Track graduation rates.
“Given the year of COVID and struggles we had keeping kids connected, our freshman success team was able to have pretty good results,” said Trish Evens, the Director of Secondary Education for Grants Pass School District. She says the nine percent drop in attendance in her district last school year is due to the struggles of distance learning.
“That’s too much of an increase but given the circumstances we had, it could have been a lot worse,” said Evens. Some Rogue Valley school districts had the double whammy of the pandemic and wildfires like Phoenix-Talent.
“We’re down a few percentage points from the previous year just because of all the stuff that was going on,” explained Superintendent Brent Barry’s district. There were low attendance rates, especially for homeless or disabled students. But its on-time graduation and on-track graduation rates are higher than the state average. That includes their latest initiative to raise Latinx student graduation rates overall.
“Grad coaches that really focus on freshman and sophomores to make sure they are earning credit. We know if they met that threshold of on track to gradate their freshman year, they will most likely be graduating on time,” said Barry.
It’s not the same situation in Medford School District where only 63 percent of 9th graders are on track to graduate. “I’ll be honest, it is shockingly low,” said Superintendent Bret Champion. He says the district found students are struggling the most with English and science credits.
But he’s quick to point to other areas, where the district is doing well. “Our English learners outpaced the district graduation rate, outpaced the state’s graduation rate,” said Champion. Medford School District is also facing attendance struggles with around half of homeless and Hispanic students chronically absent. “That is devastating, those numbers are devastating. We know that one thing that points to a kid likely dropping out is ten or more unexcused absences in a year,” he said.
Across the state, there’s been a 5 percent increase in getting mental health professionals in schools. It’s something many local school districts have implemented, if they weren’t already doing so. “There is a tremendous need there. I think really focusing and narrowing down what each student and family really needs to be successful is something that has helped us reach those numbers,” said Barry.
Here you can view all of the ODE’s report cards for Oregon districts and schools.