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Medford to share student info with SOU

Southern Oregon University has inked an agreement with Medford School District intended to help the university better promote higher education pathways — and itself — to high school students within the region’s largest school district.

The new intergovernmental agreement between the school district and SOU gives the university basic directory information for Medford students, according to a press release issued by the university earlier this week. SOU President Rick Bailey stated in the release that he is "confident that this will become the new statewide role model for collaboration between public and higher education.”

The agreement allows the Medford School District to share with the university contact information for high school students, including the student’s name, school, mailing address, phone numbers, grade level or expected graduation year, according to the release. The university can then offer high school students “timely enrollment guidance and opportunities.”

The district and university will comply with all federal and state privacy laws, according to the release, and won’t provide information about students whose parents ask the public schools not to disclose information to SOU.

Medford School District Superintendent Bret Champion stated in the release that the goal of the agreement is to increase college attendance among Medford students by providing students “information that may help them discover life-changing academic pathways.”

“SOU plays a key role in providing options for our students that are open and hopeful, in addition to guiding students to own their present and future,” Champion stated in part. “We are grateful for their partnership.”

Neil Woolf, SOU’s vice president for enrollment management, stated in the release that the Medford School District partnership will improve “access to and awareness of college possibilities for all students.” He described this type of arrangement as rare.

“It will improve access to college for underrepresented students in a number of ways, and it’s a testament to the good working relationship the Medford School District and SOU have built together,” Woolf stated.

According to data in the Oregon Department of Education 2020-2021 report, the latest available, each Medford high school saw below the state average of 62% for graduates attending college within 16 months of graduating in 2017-18.

Some 60% of South Medford High School graduates enrolled in a two- or four-year college within 16 months of graduation, 48% of North Medford High School students had enrolled in a two- or four-year college, and about 24% of graduates at alternative high school Central Medford went on to college, according to data in each school’s reports from the National Student Clearinghouse.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.