While the overall rate stayed about the same, some student groups made strides

Last year, 86.4 percent of Canby School District students graduated on time, according to recently released graduation data from the Oregon Department of Education. Some student groups saw improvements over the previous year, but to increase the overall rate, the school district now looks to focus on preventing chronic absenteeism.

Last year's percentage is similar the previous year, 2017-18, when 86.65 percent of Canby students graduated on time. The graduation rate continues to exceed the state's rate, which now sits at an all-time high of 80.01 percent.

What's different though is that in 2018-19, some of Canby's historically underserved students graduated at a higher rate.

Students labeled as economically disadvantaged, homeless and former English learners all graduated at a higher rate in 2018-19 than the previous year, along with their peers labeled as white.

Former English learners were the stars of the show, graduating at a rate of 92.54 percent, higher than the school's overall graduation rate and the highest of student groups.

"It's encouraging to see growth among some student groups who have historically been underserved," said Superintendent Trip Goodall in a press release. "Our efforts to equitably support all students are having some impact; however, we need to do more to ensure all students graduate. As we develop our Student Success Act plan, we are targeting programs, services, and supports that give each student what they need to succeed."

COURTESY PHOTO: CSD - Pictured is the graduation rate for various student groups over the last three years.

The Student Success Act is the bill that passed in 2019, allocating $1 billion per year toward education reform. The funding is earmarked for specific areas including increasing academic achievement for students of color; students with disabilities; emerging bilingual students; students navigating poverty, homelessness and foster care; and other student groups that have historically experienced academic disparities, per ODE. School districts around the state have been developing their plans for the funding.

In addition to evaluating the graduation progress of various student groups, the district said in a press release that they're also looking at chronic absenteeism. Research shows students who are chronically absent are less likely to graduate. A student is defined as chronically absent when they miss 10 percent of school, which is only two days a month, according to the district.

School staff members, parents and students can visit to find tips on how to improve school attendance. The website offers toolkits for families to use that include an attendance tracker for the fridge, tips for getting out the door and a reference sheet to help make the call on whether or not a student should go to school when they're feeling ill.

"We need a strong partnership with the parents in our district to ensure students are coming to school, they're engaged in school, and they're achieving in school," Goodall said in the release. "We know that support at home in these areas can lead to academic gains. While we address how best to fix our achievement gaps, we hope the partnerships we have with our parents, and our community, can help all students feel supported and valued in our schools as they work to reach their full potential.

"We are committed to removing barriers that keep any student from reaching the graduation stage," Goodall said.

This story has been updated with the most-recent graduation rate provided by the Oregon Department of Education.

Kristen Wohlers
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