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Medford, Eagle Point and Phoenix-Talent report improved graduation rates

Oregon's graduation rate remains virtually unchanged over the last year, according to statistics released Thursday by the Oregon Department of Education.

The number of students graduating high school in four years rose by only two-tenths of a percent, from 68.44 percent in 2012 to 68.66 percent last year, leaving the state far off course for its goal of a 100 percent graduation rate by 2025.

Across the Rogue Valley, districts saw more significant ups and downs in their graduation rates, including sizeable increases for schools in Medford, Eagle Point and Phoenix-Talent, and decreased rates for Central Point, Butte Falls and Ashland.

In Medford, every high school saw a rise in the number of students who graduated in four years.

"Things are going in the right direction," said Todd Bloomquist, Medford's director of secondary education. "Everything is up — we're very excited about that."

Central Medford High School — the district's alternative school — saw an increase from about 11 percent in 2012 to 15 percent last year. This was pleasant news for district officials, as the school's low graduation rate has been a topic of contention among board members and the community. Bloomquist said the district needs more resources to help families from Central, many of whom move in and out of Medford over the years.

"Our resources are so tight, and these families are in need of a lot more attention," Bloomquist said.

The district's overall graduation rate of 67 percent is still below the state average, and there's plenty of room for improvement, Bloomquist said.

"We're on the relentless pursuit of all students being successful," he said. "And that's until forever."

With the exception of the tiny 15-student cohort from the Butte Falls School District, South Medford had the highest graduation rate of schools in the region, rising from 80 percent in 2012 to nearly 85 percent in 2013.

Logos Public Charter School saw the county's most dramatic increase in its four-year graduation rate — jumping from just 19 percent in 2012 to 51 percent last year. After 2012's graduation rate was made public last year, school officials vowed to be stricter with admissions and withdraw underperforming students who didn't fit with the school's primarily homeschooled approach, which requires lots of family support.

Previously, Medford School District administration had also offered Logos as an alternative to Central Medford for expelled students, but the district now carefully considers whether students would have the support to attend Logos before enrolling them.

— Teresa Ristow

Read more in Saturday's paper.