State report card shows Scappoose School District rate among highest, St. Helens schools making strides

PMG FILE PHOTO - Scappoose High School has one of the highest graduation rates in the state at 94%, as reflected in the recently released state report card on academic progress. This rate this school year declined only slightly from last year's rate of 95%. Scappoose and St. Helens high school graduation rates remain high, but other academic measurements dropped in the latest Oregon Department of Education's annual performance report card.

Scappoose's four-year graduation rate hit 94% for the 2018-2019 school year, virtually matching the previous year's mark of 95%, one of the highest rates in the state.

St. Helens High School's four-year graduation rate dipped from 85% in 2017-2018 to 81% last June. While it shows a decline, the rate is still above the statewide average of 79%.

"The pattern over the last four years has been very good," said St. Helens School District Superintendent Scot Stockwell, noting that the district is trending in the right direction. "Our graduation rate has gone up from 73% in 2015-2016, to over 80% the last two years."

When comparing the two south Columbia County school districts' rates, Stockwell said, "Sometimes people say to me, 'Why does Scappoose have a higher graduation rate?' They say, 'Why can't St. Helens cut the mustard?'"

He said situational differences and school district demographics tell some of the story, pointing out that St. Helens, by design, welcomes students from out-of-district, including Scappoose, to attend its alternative Plymouth High School for students with a five-, six- and seven-year track to graduate. 

Those students' education plans aren't designed for a four-year graduation, yet, statistically, when a student does not have a four-year graduation track it is counted against the St. Helens rate.

The numbers

At Columbia City Elementary School, the percentage of students meeting state standards in math dropped from 39% to 30%, and in English from 42% to 35%.  Lewis & Clark Elementary math marks fell from 49% to 42%, and 48% to 45% for English.

Oregon's average for elementary students is 42% in Math and 51% in English.

St. Helens Middle School scores in math and English dipped from 46% to 42%, and 54% to 50%, respectively.

 "Those results mirror the statewide decreases," Stockwell said.   "We're drilling down to find out answers."

Scappoose's highlight came at Grant Watts Elementary, which saw the percentage of students meeting state benchmarks in math rise from 34% to 47%, and in English 33% to 49%.

South Columbia Family, an alternative elementary school, saw math marks rise from 31% to 38%.

 The percentage of students at Otto Petersen meeting math standards fell from 35% to 32%, and 55% to 51% in English.

 Sauvie Island School saw its math rates dip from 63% to 62%, while English pass rates remained the same at 77%.

 The percentage of Warren elementary students meeting state Math standards fell from 55 % to 30%, and from 63 percent to 43% in English.

Scappoose Middle School marks dipped from 44% to 42% in math and 62% to 54% in English.

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