There was plenty of good news last week in the local school districts as both city and county schools reported upticks in the senior graduation rates.
Three high schools in the Klamath County School District boasted graduation rates above 90 percent, and one of those — Henley High School — had a near-perfect graduation rate of 99.30 percent, the district reported.
Other district high schools improved their graduation rates from the year before, and overall the district continues to exceed the state average, increasing graduation numbers for the fourth year in the row.
Klamath Falls City Schools average graduation rate was down slightly last year at 63.3 percent from 65.5 percent in 2016-17, but district officials are applauding a rising graduation rate at Klamath Union High School, which reached 90.3 percent of seniors graduating from the school in four years, according to an H&N story by schools reporter Holly Dillemuth.
And, Oregon’s high school graduation rate improved by 2 percentage points for a second straight year, marking the most sustained improvement in a decade, the state reported last Thursday.
Statewide, 79 percent of students in the class of 2018 earned diplomas within four years, the Oregon Department of Education said. This is a reverse in the trend the last few years with statewide averages being flat or down.
Raising the bar
Still, lots of work remains, but we can’t help but congratulate the school district employees, from administration on down to staff, who have worked tirelessly to keep students in school and coach them through their final year onto receiving a diploma.
Public awareness of poor graduation rates has been top-of-the-mind for most in the Basin when the rates were in the low 60 percentile. Six years ago, the community kicked off the Klamath Promise, aimed at raising the rates and awareness of all the issues that surround poor student performance; and there are a lot of factors to that.
However, the group didn’t give up and now has two successful events for high school seniors: the Graduation Motivation each September at the Ross Ragland Theater and the Graduation Sensation at the end of the year at Veterans Memorial Park.
Each fall, sponsors back a motivational speaker and several school officials speaking to some 700 newly minted seniors about the need to graduate. It’s a great way to kick off the school year. (The Herald and News is one of those event backers).
Then, the Klamath Promise gets into gear raising scholarship money to be handed out to seniors after they parade down Main Street to the cheers of the community each May.
What started out at $20,000 in scholarships has now grown to $30,000 with no end in sight. It’s such an uplifting way to get students excited about entering college or a trade school.
Creative help for seniors
The five-year completer program is also a benefit for those who may not be able to graduation but are close. It give them a taste of college by moving them into college freshmen classes, while they finish their high school degree.
There are several school staffers who work to curb absenteeism, too. Their work is key, because a student who misses a mere 10 days of class, can find themselves too far behind to continue.
So, it’s worth a cheer to all those who collaborated in both the city and county schools to raise the graduation rate. Let’s keep it going.