Culver's graduation rates top region
The Oregon Department of Education released graduation rate data for the 2018-19 school year Jan. 23, and overall things are looking positive for districts throughout the county.
Jefferson County 509-J
The numbers show Jefferson County 509-J School District increasing slightly in overall graduation rates from its 2017-18 rate of 77.48% to 77.93% for 2018-19 — up about one-half of a percentage point.
Madras High School numbers increased slightly as well, up .05 of a percentage point from its 2017-18 score of 90.73% of students graduating to 90.78% in 2018-19.
"We continue as a district to progress as a district towards the state average," Ken Parshall, 509-J superintendent said.
He said that just three data sets previously, for the 2015-16 school year, the overall graduation rate for 509-J was right at 60%. For that year, Madras High School's rate was the same since the district's alternative high school, Bridges, hadn't been formed yet.
Parshall said that although this year's numbers for the district overall and Madras High didn't increase multiple percentage points as they have in the past, there is something to be celebrated in the steady increase the district has seen in the past several years.
He said that throughout the district, the increases are really a team effort, from administration to staff and volunteer mentors who work hard to connect with students and help them graduate.
Bridges High School, the district's alternative program, increased from 49.3 % to 52.78% in graduation rates. However, the jump means something different in a small program like Bridges than it does for a large school like MHS.
For example, Culver School District holds the top spot in Central Oregon this year when it comes to overall district graduation rates with 91.84%, beating out Sisters School District by .64 of a percentage point. However, the district's overall scores dropped by more than three points from the 2017-18 school year numbers.
That being said, the circumstances for a small district to maintain their graduation numbers over long periods of time are different than those of a larger district.
"Each graduating class is different, both in numbers and demographics. Every senior student carries a larger number percentage point in a smaller high school versus a larger high school," said Brad Kudlac, the Culver High School principal. "From year to year, each student at Culver can count anywhere from 2 to 4% of our student population that were to pass the (Smarter Balanced test) and/or graduate."
Kudlac said with the 2018-19 graduating class specifically, the majority of the 8.2% of students that didn't graduate were students that moved out of the area and never re-enrolled at a new school.
"If a student chooses to not enroll at their new location, according to ODE, that student will remain as a Culver High School student," he said. "If they end up not enrolling, it counts against our graduation rate."
"Our staff feels if those students would have remained at CHS, our graduation rate would have improved from the previous year, when we had a 95.1% graduation rate. However, they did not stay at Culver High School, and our graduation rate dropped versus the previous year," Kudlac said.
"As a community, we have reason to celebrate," he said. "Two years ago, we had the highest graduation rate in the region, and our goal is 100%. 95.1% is an awesome number."
This year, Kudlac said the district's graduation rate dropped a small amount to 91.8%, but he said the district is extremely proud to have one of the highest rates in the region.
"Our staff works extremely hard to make the education our students receive be of excellence. In turn, our students put forth great effort to meet our school expectations that graduation from high school is a priority," he said. "The Culver community is very supportive of our schools, and we strive to provide the best education possible to each and every student that comes through our doors every morning."
"To put it briefly," Kudlac said, "even though our graduation dropped due to circumstances out of our school's control, the families, staff, and ultimately our students should be applauded for their efforts to walk across the stage last June."
Compared to other districts in Central Oregon, 509-J ranks fifth this year in overall graduation rates, ranking higher than Crook County School District, which has a graduation rate of 72.85%. That being said, the district trails Culver, Sisters, Redmond and Bend/La Pine.
Culver came in first in the region. Sisters ranked second with 91.2% for the district, up 1.28 points, Redmond landed third at 84.3%, up 1.44 points, and Bend La Pine sits at fourth, dropping 1.26 points to 80.6% from 2017-18.
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