Wilsonville High School Boosts Graduation Rate, Sets Example for Oregon High Schools
PORTLAND - On Thursday, the Oregon Department of Education reported a 1.8 percent increase in the graduation rate from 2013-14 to 2014-15. While this is not cause to celebrate—still over 25 percent of our students do not graduate on time—it provides school staff, families and policymakers the opportunity to reflect on what works.
Wilsonville High School’s graduation rate shot up 10 points from 84.6 percent to 94.4 percent.
“We have a really good, data-driven counseling department that can tell early when a student is struggling,” says Dan Schumaker, principal at Wilsonville High School. “I think the 10 percent increase has a lot to do with the fact we don’t have a canned program. We can be very personal. One of our counselors works specifically to make sure our freshman stay on track. All of our counselors work closely with classroom teachers to provide as much support as possible during the school day.”
Wilsonville offers a number of programs and services driving student success, including:
- Partnerships with Oregon Institute of Technology and Clackamas Community College so students can earn college credit while in high school, and reduce the financial burden of obtaining a college degree.
- ‘Ninth Grade Accelerated Pathway to Success’ and ‘Freshman Academies’ offer early intervention and support to keep students on the path to earning a diploma. Accelerated Pathways counselors monitor 9th graders to ensure they are on track. Wilsonville also has a bilingual counselor to support the large number of English learners at the high school.
- A wide variety of career and technical education programs exposing students to career paths in biomedical health sciences, sustainable agriculture, digital design, engineering and computer science.
Across the state, a number of parallel trends emerged. Principals and superintendents attributed improvements to partnerships with community colleges, personalized attention for students falling off track, among other services.
“The problem with Oregon’s graduation rate isn’t that we don’t know how to support our students,” says Toya Fick, executive director of Stand for Children Oregon. “Students succeed when they can connect what they’re learning today to what will matter for them tomorrow. They succeed when high schools can employ strategies to keep them from dropping out. If we want all high schools across the state to raise their graduation rates, we need to provide them with the resources to offer these opportunities to all students.”