Oregon’s graduation rate for the class of 2021 edged slightly above its 2019 level, buoyed by large gains among Black students and students with disabilities.
The new statewide rate of 81% represents a gain of 3 percentage points from four years ago as well as a gain of about half a percentage point from when Oregon last handed out pre-pandemic diplomas, in 2019.
However, it also marks a decrease of 2 percentage points from 2020, when the state loosened grading standards as an early pandemic response. Likely as a result, graduation rates surged among nearly all student groups, particularly those that traditionally struggled to earn diplomas. Some observers view those elevated rates as an anomaly that reflected the state’s edict that no student who had a passing grade early in the semester could be issued a failing grade, even if they did not do more work and passed no more tests or quizzes.
For many years, Oregon has ranked in the national basement when it comes to graduating students within four years of starting high school. The most recent national comparison, from 2019, showed that Oregon ranked No. 48, ahead of only Arizona and New Mexico.
Districts with significant Black student enrollments that posted the best graduation rates this year included Hillsboro (93%), Beaverton (89%) and North Clackamas (87%). For Latino students, the greatest success stories were in McMinnville (93%), Hermiston (90%) and North Clackamas (88%).
— Betsy Hammond; email@example.com