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Data: 80.5% of high schoolers graduate on time from Portland Public Schools, as underserved kids make notable gains

PMG FILE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Vivian Monteiro shakes the hands of faculty at Wilson High School after receiving her diploma at graduation. In Portland and across Oregon, graduation rates rose to an all-time high.

More students are graduating high school in Portland, and across the state, than ever before.

New data released this week by the Oregon Department of Education show the statewide graduation rate for 2018-19 was 80% — the highest rate ever recorded and an increase of 8 percentage points over five years.

Historically, Oregon has struggled with one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country. Schools also have struggled with achievement gaps and disparities in rates of graduation between white students and students of color. The latest numbers indicate the state is doing a better job overall at serving students from historically underserved groups.

"This year's graduation rate increase means nearly 600 additional students earned a diploma," ODE Director Colt Gill said. "We are seeing even faster growth for students of color, students with disabilities and students navigating poverty than the state as a whole."

Gill said funding from the Student Success Act — a corporate activities tax bill passed in 2019 — will "build on this promising foundation to foster equity and excellence for all Oregon students."

While the increases show promise for students from historically underserved groups, Oregon still has real work to do. The latest data indicate that only 70.4% of black students in the state graduate on time. That number drops to 68% for American Indian/Alaska Native students; just over 63% for students with disabilities; and 60% for students who didn't learn English until high school.

Portland Public Schools, the state's largest district, boasts a four-year graduation rate just slightly above the state average, at 80.54% for all students. That's a slight uptick from the 2017-18 rate of 79.6% and a 10 percentage point jump from the 2013-14 school year, in which only 70.4% of students graduated within four years.

Data show 82% of students in PPS graduated within five years, as of last year.

"I believe these improved outcomes are a testament to the collective effort of our students, educators and community partners," Portland Public Schools Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said. "We have been intentional about our commitment to better support all of our students, while placing a special emphasis on our historically underserved students. While we recognize that we have much more work to do, these improved graduation numbers are an indication that our strategies and investments are having a positive impact on our high school students' outcomes, especially our Black and Native students."

Your school

Which schools graduate the highest number of students on time? Here's how high schools across Portland did in the 2018-19 school year:

PMG GRAPHIC: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Several high schools in Portland saw increased graduation rates for the 2018-19 school year. Grant High School boasted the highest on-time graduation rate, at 94.3%.

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