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Logos looks at increasing its grad rates

Administrators at Logos Public Charter School say that implementing a stricter enrollment process for new students will help increase the school's graduation rate.

The school's charter was renewed last week for three years by the Medford School Board, which required that Logos report on its graduation rate each year.

In 2012, the four-year graduation rate at Logos was a little more than 19 percent, though because the school opened in 2010, none of the students had attended Logos for more than two years.

"It reveals the challenge facing students who enter public schools after being schooled in some alternative manner," said Medford schools Superintendent Phil Long in a letter to the School Board recommending the charter renewal.

Long said the low graduation rate also may stem from the district's request that Logos enroll some of Medford's expelled high school students as an alternative to Central Medford High School.

"This has not been a successful endeavor as the model requires active, ongoing involvement of parents in the instruction of students," said Long. "Having these students included in the Logos cohort data has also impacted the graduation rate."

Once a student enrolls in an Oregon school, he is included in that school's graduation or dropout rate unless he re-enrolls in another program.

"If a student does not enroll somewhere else, the law states that the last school that touched them is responsible for them," Logos administrator Joe VonDoloski told teachers in an email last week.

In response to the School Board's concerns about Logos' graduation rate, VonDoloski said teachers should continue monitoring whether 11th- and 12th-grade students are on track to graduate and withdraw students who aren't on track and who haven't responded to interventions.

Logos has 56 seniors currently attending, VonDoloski said.

Students struggling to keep up at Logos are put on an academic plan of assistance and may meet with staff, a truancy officer or a principal to conduct interventions.

Students who are withdrawn will be encouraged to pass a GED test or sign up for schooling elsewhere, such as being homeschooled through the Southern Oregon Education Service District.

"As a great service to our students, our teachers often stay with this kid for an additional week or so after they withdraw to help them identify where they should/can enroll for the student to be successful," VonDoloski said.

VonDoloski said that administrators are working to refine the enrollment process to help parents and students decide whether the Logos model will work for them and to filter out students who might not be successful at Logos.

"In the past, I think they registered kids as they walked in the door," said Medford School Board member Sally Killen. "Then they would find that they wouldn't succeed. I had said I wished they would do some sort of a test run."

Killen said she believed the district would no longer be sending kids to Logos as an alternative to other district high schools if the students wouldn't excel with the Logos model.

Students at Logos typically meet with a teacher once a week and have the option to take some classes on campus, though the majority of coursework is done at home, with parents playing a big role in the instruction for the student.

"It's a very unique delivery approach at Logos," said Killen. "We're not going to be pushing kids who cannot do it."

VonDoloski said an administrative team is working to improve the enrollment process, though he said that under state law, the school isn't able to deny attendance to any student.

Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or tristow@mailtribune.com.