Oregon Department of Education data released Thursday showed Roseburg High School continuing to lower its drop-out rate even though the graduation rate has dropped slightly.

Roseburg Public School officials say the improvement in the dropout rate is attributed to programs that track and support every student on their path toward graduation.

State figures show that the drop-out rate for 2017-18 was 2.03 percent, below the state’s 3.55 rate. The statistics show that the RHS rate has decreased for the past four years.

The four-year cohort graduation rate at RHS, which tracks students who first entered high school in 2014-15, was 76.1 percent for 2017-18, just 1.58 percent lower than the state rate of 78.68, and less than one percentage point lower than the previous year’s rate.

The graduation rate for Phoenix School more than doubled, hitting 23.44 percent in 2017-18, up from around 11 percent the previous year. The overall Roseburg School District graduation rate was 61.51, up from 60.38 percent.

“It’s confusing when you have a dropout rate that’s lowering, but a graduation rate that’s not really growing,” Weber said. “But a dropout rate includes a kid that leaves school and does not return., The four-year graduation rate is a look at kids who start as ninth-graders and complete school in four years.”

Weber said that although this year’s graduation rates dipped slightly at RHS, she remains encouraged by the school’s extraordinary rate increases in freshmen on-track to finish high school in four years.

According to 2017 data released from ODE last fall, RHS showed 85 percent of freshmen on track to graduate, up 5 percentage points from the previous year and on par with the state average. Four years ago, 73 percent of freshmen were on track at RHS.

On-track students, those earning one-quarter of graduation credits in their ninth-grade year, are more than twice as likely to graduate in four years than their off-track peers, said Weber.

“As we’ve come to better understand how important freshman year is in determining whether a student graduates on time, we’ve developed a number of resources in recent years intended to support students very early on, even before they enter high school,” she said. “These efforts will soon begin to translate into higher graduation rates.”

Weber said Oregon’s criteria for graduation has had an impact on the graduation rate. Requirements are more stringent than they were several years ago, which has made it much tougher for students to graduate.

Attendance is another strong indicator of whether students will graduate on time. RHS has implemented several programs focused on keeping students in class, but Weber points out that parents and the community must also do their part to ensure students attend school every day.

Weber is excited about the graduation rate of students that focus on Career Technical Education credits.

“Kids who concentrate on CTE, (drafting, welding, woodworking, auto and healthcare) which means they have three or more credits, we have a 90 percent graduation rate,” Weber said.

Superintendent Lee Paterson said the district is committed to serving each student’s individual needs.

“Gone are the days of ‘one size fits all’ public education,” Paterson said. “The annual drop-out/graduation reports are built on that old premise. But more and more, we’re finding that today’s youth need a more individualized, focused method of support. We’re working harder than ever to ensure that every student graduates and moves on to a successful future.”

Roseburg High School has initiated these programs and resources to ensure students graduate:

• Summer school aimed at helping freshmen get back on track with the key subjects of Algebra 1 and English 9 – the two most commonly failed classes and the most difficult to recover – prior to entering their sophomore year.

• A graduation coach who works to support students.

• Freshmen Success Team that tracks data such as GPA for freshmen classes as a whole, to ensure aspects like curriculum and courses are successful.

• Smaller learning communities in which every freshman is assigned to a team of teachers that meets with the student monthly and focuses on areas such as attendance and grades.

• An early warning system used to hone in on freshmen who are struggling with attendance, grades or behavior.

• Link Crew, a group of upperclassmen, helps middle school students with the transition to high school.

• “Strive for less than five” awareness program encourages students and parents to set a goal of missing no more than four days of school each semester.

Reporter Dan Bain can be reached at 541-957-4221 or e-mail at dbain@nrtoday.com.

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Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

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