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Education

COOS COUNTY — Oregon holds the third lowest graduation rate in the nation.

In a press release earlier this month, the National Center for Education Statistics showed the best and worst states when it came to graduation. The Oregon Education Association president, C. John Larson, pointed to a “funding crisis” as for why Oregon came in so low.

“Our students are continuing to pay the price for our inadequate funding of public education,” Larson said. “Oregonians must come together and solve our school funding crisis so that all Oregon students have the opportunity to reach their highest potential.”

According to the statistics that were released, New Mexico came in at the bottom with a graduation rate of 71 percent, preceded by Nevada at 73.6 percent, and then Oregon at 74.8 percent.

However, the District of Columbia came in at 69.2 percent.

The three states with the highest graduation rate were Iowa at 91.3 percent, followed by New Jersey at 90.1 percent, and West Virginia at 89.8 percent.

Though official numbers for district graduation rates haven’t been released by the Oregon Department of Education yet, some districts provided The World with preliminary numbers.

“When comparing data from district to district and state to state, it is important to note that each district is unique and each state is unique,” Coos Bay Superintendent Bryan Trendell wrote in an email to The World. “When the recent national data came out and Oregon was near the bottom, it is important to know that Oregon has very high graduation requirements.”

In fact, Trendell pointed out that Oregon doesn’t recognize the GED as a graduate, while many other states do.

“States do not all measure graduation rates the same,” he said. “This makes comparing states difficult.”

Instead, he said that trend data is best to see how Oregon has done over the past five years.

“Districts are also different,” Trendell said. “For instance, our district includes Marshfield High School, Destinations Academy, Resource Link, and Belloni Ranch in all our graduation data for our district. Our alternative programs, especially Belloni Ranch which has court appointed students from all over the state, have not had great graduation rates as the students in these alternative programs have faced challenges throughout their career and are playing catchup.”

Similarly, the North Bend School District sees graduation rates impacted by its Virtual Academy, which also has students from around the state.

“Other districts in our area may not have this demographic and only have their high school data,” Trendell said.

For the Coos Bay School District over the last five years, it has seen an upward trend. In 2012 the district saw 52.6 percent graduation rate, but 61.5 in 2016.

“Last year’s data is still in draft form and has not been finalized, but first glance shows a continued upward trend,” he said.

Marshfield High School has shown a trend of 66.3 percent five years ago to 79.6 percent last year. However, the district’s alternative programs have been declining over the last five years but draft numbers for the 2016/2017 school year shows it going up.

“One bright spot is our GED program, which has had good success over the past five years,” Trendell said. “Students who earn a GED can go on to a community college, the military, or vocational school.”

Though GED earners count against graduation rates in Oregon, Trendell said that so long as local student who get GEDs still have opportunities after high school, “we will continue to encourage students to take that path if appropriate.”

For the North Bend School District’s five-year trend, its graduation rate in 2012 was 65.5. It went up from there, hitting 70.1 the following year before lowering again. In 2016 the graduation rate was 66.9.

At the Myrtle Point School District, its percentages mirrored North Bend’s five-year trend. In 2014 it had 51.5 percent rate, which went up the next year but down again. The unofficial 2016/2017 school year numbers show a 65.8 graduation rate.

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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