COOS BAY — The Coos Bay School District ranks above the state average in students taking advantage of college opportunities.
A report released last week by the Northwest Regional Education Labs, conducted for the Oregon Department of Education, took a look at the percentage of Oregon high schools accessing the “2 Plus 2 Dual Credit” college level courses. It also looked at the demographics of the students, if they were on free and reduced lunch and their ethnicity.
The state average was 16 percent. The Coos Bay School District scored 26 percent, marking it higher than any other district on the South Coast.
“They were looking at data from 2014 and 2015,” said Superintendent Bryan Trendell. “The year before that the state average was 12 percent and we scored 15 percent.”
The report also showed that the Coos Bay School District's number one category being accessed was science, followed by math, college writing and literature.
“It's very positive news for the district,” Trendell said.
The report took a look at which students were taking advantage of the college credit opportunities to make sure it wasn't just “our white kids,” Trendell said.
“We have a small ethnic demographic,” he said. “We are predominately white, and there aren't as many kids on free and reduced lunch who took part in those college credits. That's something we want to improve on next year.”
One of the glaring aspects of the report showed that students in poverty had not accessed college credit courses while in high school. Trendell hopes that by tackling the school's drop out rate, which is at 5 percent, that trend will change next year.
Trendell also hopes to involve kids in the poverty level by bringing back the high school internship course, or from-school-to-work program.
“We're going to apply for the Measure 98 funds that the state is holding,” Trendell said. “Our internship program just five years ago was huge for our drop out prevention. There were a lot of kids in that program, and kids spent half the day working on core academics and the other half working, which also gave them credit. Those internships translated into jobs after graduation, and some students turned around and started businesses of their own that are still around here.”
Though the program started in the 1970s, participation took a big dip five years ago until only one or two students were participating.
“We used to have 200 students processed through the program,” said Peggy Ahlgrim, secretary to superintendent and school board. “For many of the kids it was their last opportunity for success and they took full advantage of it. Some of our staff are graduates from that program.”
Trendell hopes to see money from Measure 98 come in for the program within the next few months, and looks forward to working with the administration to include more students in earning college credit before graduation.
“We have a plan in place to make our report scores even higher,” he said. “The school-to-work piece is going to play a big role in that I think.”