Across the nation high school and college graduation rates are on the rise, with gaps in minority education steadily improving. However, is the U.S. on track to meet its goal of a graduation rate of 90% by 2020? Oregon is proudly doing its part, ranking fourth in the country… fourth from the bottom, that is. But hey, it certainly is the 47th best place to graduate high school on time.
Since 2010, Gradnation.org has compiled U.S. on-time high school graduation rates from “hundreds of trusted national partners” in an effort to monitor progress and help the country with its learnin’. According to Gradnation, at the 2013 school year’s end, the Overall Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate for Oregon was 68.7%, the lowest in the country.
Oregon managed to increase graduation rates to 72% by the end of 2014, surpassing Alaska, Nevada, and New Mexico—however, falling 0.5% short of Georgia. Gaps in minority education in Oregon have also improved between 2011 and 2014 with a 6.2% and 7% increase in black and Hispanic graduates respectively. Some of the overall increase is due to Oregon recently including modified diplomas in their graduation rate calculations. A modified diploma is awarded to students who cannot, for medical or disability reasons, meet regular academic standards.
The good news is that Corvallis is on top of its game. Corvallis High School had a 90% on-time graduation rate and Crescent Valley an 83% rate in 2015. South and West Albany high schools also scored high with rates of 86% and 98% respectively.
During the annual “State of the University” speech, OSU President Ed Ray declared he would raise the six-year graduation rate at OSU to 70% by 2020. This may be a bit ambitious, considering the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that only 55.5% of first-year students in 2013 succeeded in graduating within six years. In fact, for the 2013 incoming students, only 30.3% of the 10,107 counted students graduated within the standard four years. However, OSU does have the second highest graduation rate among Oregon public postsecondary institutions.
From economic opportunities to differences in educational systems between states, a plethora of factors influence graduation rates across the country. Graduation rates are on the rise, but according to the latest Gradnation report, we are falling just short of the goal of 90% by 2020. Oregon has indeed risen from the bottom, but that should only motivate us to keep up the momentum.
By Anthony Vitale