A little over 86% of students who started at Roseburg High School in 2016 graduated in 2020, a nearly 10% increase in graduation rates since last year.
“For four years we’ve really been working on this system and I think this is what we’re seeing the work of the full system coming together,” Roseburg High School Principal Jill Weber said. “We know about the students before they even come into our school, we support them from the first day they’re here, and we support them all the way through until graduation. And we’re very excited to see where the graduation rate from last year is.”
Roseburg High Schools also has a graduation guide and five counselors, one who came on at the start of the current school year.
Weber said the school hopes to continue the trend by expanding summer school options, to help the students who have struggled with distance learning.
“This year has really challenged us in a lot of ways and challenged the kids in a lot of ways,” Weber said. “We’re going to have to look at our system differently now that we’ve gone through this first semester distance learning. Some kids have thrived in the settings and other kids have really struggled. We’re going to have to look at how to support the kids have been struggling to ensure that we do support them to that graduation in four years.”
Weber said 90% of the current Roseburg High School seniors were on track to graduate in September.
The district’s alternative school, Rose School, is expected to move into the high school at the start of the 2021-2022 school year. The graduation at Rose School was 17.14% at the end of last school year.
“We’re excited to bring in the students from Rose and get them to be part of our system,” Weber said.
As Rose School moves over, so will the GED program which will give students enrolled in the program a chance to participate in electives offered at Roseburg High School.
“We’re going to be giving them more options within the building, because of bringing Rose into this,” Weber said. “We know there isn’t one plan that works for all kids, but instead we’re looking at 1,500 different plans to support all the kids in the different ways they need. And I think bringing Rose will allow us more opportunities to do that.”
The graduation rate at Roseburg’s other public high school Phoenix School was 31.17%. The overall graduation rate for Roseburg Public Schools was 68.1%.
Throughout the state the graduation rate was 82.6%, a 2.6% increase from last year. Jon Wiens, director of accountability and reporting for the Oregon Department of Education, said the increase reflects an additional 3,500 students with a high school diploma statewide.
Days Creek, Elkton, Glide, North Douglas, Oakland, Reedsport and Sutherlin school districts all had graduation rates above the state average, while Camas Valley, Glendale, Riddle, South Umpqua and Yoncalla were below the state average. Winston-Dillard School District was below the state average as a whole, with 80.21% of students graduating in four years, but the Douglas High School graduation rate was 89.02%.
Despite being below the state average, Winston-Dillard, South Umpqua and Yoncalla all saw their graduation rates increase in comparison to the 2018-2019 school year.
Many schools saw increases this year, but according to many officials the impact of COVID-19 guidelines had little to do with that.
“The statewide emphasis on our underserved students paired with targeted, localized programs by schools to meet their students’ needs,” Oregon Department of Education spokesperson Marc Siegel said. “By focusing on equity and consistently partnering with our school districts we are able to boost student performance.”
In April 2020, the state announced that all students who were on track to graduate would automatically graduate and others would be graded on a strictly pass/fail system.
“I would say it had a very small impact,” Weber said. “Graduation isn’t a result of March, April and May. Graduation rates are the results of four years worth of hard work.”
Of the 13 school districts in Douglas County, nine saw graduation rates increase, three decreased and Riddle stayed exactly the same at 75%.
In addition to the graduation data, the Oregon Department of Education also release dropout data. Statewide the dropout rate was 2.38%, while this increase a little bit for the county to 3.37%.
However, Roseburg High School had 10 students drop out which accounted for a rate of 0.64%.
“I’m just so excited about that as well,” Weber said. “It shows that we’re making sure our kids are staying with us that we’re holding on to them.”