“There’s a lot of kids that never engage in high school,” Superintendent Brian Shumate says, “and they become invisible and if kids become invisible then we have a problem.”
Changing the high school experience, that’s the ultimate goal for Superintendent Brian Shumate.
“I want every kid to have a band kid experience,” Shumate says.
In a year’s time the Medford School District saw significant increases in graduation rates, most notably among Latino students where the increase was 15%.
“The state average increased by only 2%, so according to them we far outpaced the state average,” Supervisor of School Improvement Terri Dahl says.
Shumate says the biggest implementation was a data system to monitor how close students were to earning the 24 credits needed for graduation.
“We had kids that were credit deficient but were close,” Shumate says, “and we had a lot of good staff members and a lot of students who did some amazing things to graduate on time.”
And while they’re proud of how far they’ve come in a year, they’re not done yet. The district hopes to have a graduation rate of 80% by the year 2017. They hope to accomplish that by getting every kid plugged in with a 4 year course they choose.
“It gives them identity in high school, and along with that they’re around like-minded kids that are interested in the same things, and caring adults around them, and things to look forward to after school on the weekends, and the summer all the co-curricular things, those are things band kids experience,” Shumate says.
Overall, the state graduation rate for 2015 was 74%. Medford’s was 74.95%, and of districts of a similar size, the highest rate was 83.27% while the lowest was 57.59%.
Just last October, the US Department of Education ranked Oregon third in the country for its improvement rate.
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