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Grad rates up at Medford schools last year

Medford and Central Point were the only Southern Oregon school districts that improved their graduation rates while staying above the state average last year, according to district report cards released Thursday by the Oregon Department of Education.

The annual report cards feature a variety of information about demographics, class sizes, per-student spending, academic progress and student outcomes.

The state graduation rate consistently has increased since 2013-14, and last year it landed at 74.8 percent.

Medford School District’s graduation rate increased from 75 percent to 77.15 percent last year, the third straight year Medford improved its graduation rate and the second time it has topped the state average since 2013-14.

Central Point increased its graduation rate from 76.1 percent to 77.1 percent, while Eagle Point improved from 62.9 percent to 64.8 percent.

Medford officials credited ongoing improvements in attendance initiatives, specialized counseling and Career and Technical Education for the boost.

“We are doing a number of efforts — short term and long term — to help students overcome any hurdles they might have and connect them with our schools,” Medford schools spokeswoman Natalie Hurd said. “We take every student into consideration and provide them with specialized programs.”

Eagle Point School District Superintendent Cynda Rickert said she’s happy overall with the outcomes, but noted there’s “plenty of room for improvement.”

“Our graduation rate did go up, but overall it’s not too impressive,” Rickert said.

Ashland School District continued to far exceed the state average but lost a point last year with an 88.2 percent graduation rate.

Butte Falls took the biggest dive — almost 10 percent — from 71.4 percent to 61.9 percent.

Logos Public Charter School had the highest graduation rate in Southern Oregon at 90.7 percent — a small decrease from the previous year’s 91 percent.

South Medford High School landed at 87.9 percent — up from 83 percent — while North Medford came in at 83.7 percent compared with 83.5 percent the previous year. Central Medford improved its graduation rate to 31.7 percent.

The graduation rates among Medford minority students, low-income students, migrant and English-learner students also increased and were above the state average, the report cards showed.

English-learner students graduated at a 75.2 percent rate last year compared to 67.6 percent the previous year; migrant students were at 77.4 percent compared to 69.6; and Hispanic/Latino students were at 69.4 percent compared to 65.3 the previous year.

In the category of Freshmen on Track to graduate, Medford took a dip, while Eagle Point celebrated a big improvement of almost 10 percent.

Medford freshmen were at 81.2 percent compared with 83 percent the previous year. Two years ago, the school saw a jump of more than 10 percent in Freshmen On Track.

At Eagle Point, Rickert said multiple efforts, including the hiring of a graduation coach, attendance initiatives and a focus on preparing eighth-graders, helped freshmen improve from 65.7 percent to 75.5 percent.

“It is never one thing that makes it work,” Rickert said. “We try to hit every facet of the issue to help improve the overall environment.”

Hurd said the district has implemented a freshmen counseling position at North Medford to help navigate students and connect them.

She said attendance initiatives that have helped improve attendance also will help freshmen in the long term.

“Every minute we can have the kids in school, we believe that we could make them more successful in life,” Hurd said.

District and school report cards can be seen at www.ode.state.or.us/data/reportcard/reports.aspx.

Report Cards 16-17 by Trân Nguyễn on Scribd

— Reach reporting intern Tran Nguyen at 541-776-4485 or tnguyen@mailtribune.com.