Medford School District celebrates 2018 graduation rates
Medford School District is celebrating their highest graduation rates in history.
Superintendent, Brian Shumate, says that "since 2014, the district has improved in the 4-year cohort graduation rate by about 15%." This means that 80.5% of the graduating class of 2018 graduated within four years. This number is up from last year's 78.0%.
North Medford High School has the highest graduation rate out of any comprehensive high school in the Rogue Valley. More than 91% of the 2018 class graduated. South Medford High School saw about a 2-percentage point increase since last year at 85%.
There are many reasons for the increase. Oregon students are held to a higher standard than students in many other states and MSD students are held to a higher standard than students in other local districts with more rigorous graduation requirements. Not only does the state-require 24 credits, but to earn a "Medford" diploma in MSD, students must complete a senior project and demonstrate proficiency in all learning targets in all classes at a C or better level.
Shumate says they are particularly proud of "closing achievement gaps across the board." Students with disabilities are graduating ahead of state average at 74%. Economically disadvantaged students are graduating at 74% as well. The graduation rate of Hispanic and Latino students is 72%, which is up 4% from last year.
Students who participated in Medford School District's English language learning program are graduating at 80%. "We feel good about closing gaps and serving every student in our public school district."
"If we're going to move to 90% as a district, we have to re-think how we do high school. The district is working right now as a modular approach." He says that they have developed an online program allowing students to go to school partial days, online, or on weekends.
"We're also paying for community college where students can experience college on their school days." Shumate explains that they aim to "create an individualized learning experience and pathways for each individual student and not force them into a cookie-cutter experience."
South Medford High School's principal, Donnie Frazier, says that kids "see hope at the end of the tunnel." He says that hopeful kids are going to keep showing up every day.
Dan Smith, Principal of North Medford High School credits the pathways programs for the increased graduation rates, "When we get them to show up, we get them to learn."
Amy Herbst, Principal of Central Medford High School, says that in 2011, Central had a 9% graduation rate. They have increased this number over the years by 21 percentage points to 30%. "That doesn't just happen overnight. It's dedicated teachers and staff that are creating relationships and truly care and love the students and the families that they're serving."
She also credits community partnerships as well as mental health resources for the increase in graduation rates. "This is a great community that has been really supportive." She says that they "have a partnership with family solutions counselling and have a full-time mental health therapist on site."