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(Correction: Coos Bay School District's graduation rate is 65, while Marshfield High School's is 91.4)

COOS COUNTY — Not only has the graduation rate risen across the state, but across Coos County.

The Oregon Department of Education released the graduation rate for 2017-2018 this week, showing the state average at 78.7 percent. That is an increase of two points from the previous year.

“It’s important to remember that we are talking about students, not statistics,” Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill said in the release. “In this case, a two-point increase in graduation means an additional 950 students getting their diplomas within four years of starting high school.”

Though every school in Coos County saw an increase as well, topping the list for the best graduation rate is the Coquille School District at 97.6 percent. That is up from the previous year, which was 92.4 percent.

“A lot of that credit goes to Jeff Philly and the staff at the high school,” said Tim Sweeney, superintendent at the Coquille School District. “They’ve done significant changes to CHS over the years and we’ve focused more on improving elective offerings and keeping kids engaged longer.”

Sweeney also pointed to teachers creating more meaningful programs as a reason for the increased rates, something that he says keeps kids interested in staying in school.

Not only that, but CHS Principal Jeff Philly revised his class offerings for students, according to Sweeney.

“If you’re an incoming freshmen, you have six required classes and those can be overwhelming,” he said. “Instead of forcing these, we spread them out. It allows students to be successful early.”

Across the district, Sweeney said improvement has been seen in graduation since more mental health counseling has been made available for students.

“We’re offering more social and emotional support for students and that will continue to have an impact on our student population as well,” he said. “We’re excited about the graduation rate, we’re proud of the efforts. It’s a good time to be in Coquille.”

Behind the Coquille School District was the Powers School District, with a graduation rate of 92.31 percent.

Though the North Bend School District’s overall number was 55 percent that includes numbers from the Oregon Virtual Academy. For the North Bend High School, Principal Darrell Johnston said it is 87.6 percent.

Johnston attributed that high number to a few efforts, including the high school’s Freshmen Academy that talks about education opportunities. Not only that, but the high school’s Career and Technical Education programs have grown over the last three years which has increased the number of students engaged in education.

High school administration also held individual conferences with students who needed extra help. Not only that, but NBHS hired a new graduation coach.

“We are doubling our efforts,” Johnston said. “Any time we see an increase in graduation rates, it is cause to celebrate, but until it is 100 percent we haven’t achieved our goal.”

At the Bandon School District, its graduation rate was 76.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the Coos Bay Schools is at 65 percent. Though the overall district percentage is still a jump from last year, Marshfield High School made a 10 percent jump, putting its graduation rate at 91.4 percent.

The district's overall percentage is impacted by its alternative schools, such as Destinations Academy.

To get that increase, Marshfield High School Principal Travis Howard attributed it to efforts seen schoolwide.

“It’s something we concentrate on at all five levels,” he said. “We have our 8th grade on-track students, make sure our 9th grade students aren’t falling behind, and target the juniors and seniors who are credit deficient and make sure they are held accountable for credit recovery. We throw a lot of time and energy at them, making sure they are successful.”

Also on the South Coast, the Port Orford-Langlois School District with a graduation rate of 80 percent and the Reedsport Community Charter at 58.7 percent.

In the ODE press release, Gov. Kate Brown proposed a $2 billion investment in education that would dedicate $794 million to reduce class sizes in early grades as well as lengthen the school year.

“How our state provides for the needs of our children is a marker of who we are as a community,” said Gov. Brown in the release. “Every student in Oregon deserves an education that sets them up for success and helps them graduate from high school with a plan for their future. These graduation rates show our work to close opportunity gaps with targeted investments is making a difference in the lives of students. To build on this progress, I am dedicated to re-investing in our schools to bring them back to a level we can be proud of.”

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.

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