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Graduation Rates Rise and Fall

Gaps persistent despite recent gains

1/31/2018, 11:29 a.m.
New data shows the graduation rate is improving in Portland Public Schools except for black and African-American students, which as ...
Graduation rates have risen overall in Oregon and Portland, but gaps persist for disadvantaged groups. Mark Ramsay

New data shows the graduation rate is improving in Portland Public Schools except for black and African-American students, which as a group saw a three percent decline in how many students finished high school last year.

The figures released from the Oregon Department of Education, also show that statewide, the black and African-American graduation rate increased by 1.5 percent during the same period. For Portland, the overall graduate rate increased for the eighth year in a row, by 2.5 percent, jumping from 76.7 to 77.9 percent. Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said that was “encouraging.”

But Guerrero acknowledged persisting achievement gaps between historically underserved populations, a trend that’s also reflected state wide.

“Clearly, we have more work to do to accelerate student outcomes and narrow achievement gaps,” he said.

In the Portland district, the economically disadvantaged students’ graduation rate only improved by 0.3 percent, while statewide the rate improved by 2 percent compared to last year.

A 2015 report by economists at ECONorthwest estimated that Oregon is losing out on nearly $2 billion of revenue per year because of its lack of programs and progress in closing an achievement gap affecting Latinos, African Americans, and Native Americans in public schools.

Other reports have shown high quality preschools, mitigating summer learning loss with year-long education programs and hiring top performing teachers can help close the achievement gap for disadvantaged groups.