Oregon Graduation Rate Remains Near National Basement

By Rob Manning (OPB)
Portland, Oregon Dec. 5, 2017 7 p.m.

Oregon's graduation rate is among the lowest in the country once again, according to new national numbers.

Oregon's 74.8 percent graduation rate for 2016 was almost 10 points lower than the just-released national average from the U.S. Department of Education. Oregon published its 2016 graduation rate almost a year ago when it crept up 1 percentage point from 2015.

Like a year ago, Oregon's graduation rate is better than those of only two states – Nevada and New Mexico, as well as Washington, D.C.

All states share an achievement gap between white students and students of color, but in Oregon, all rates tend to be lower. Native American students graduate from Oregon public schools at a 56 percent rate. It's below 70 percent for both African-American and Latino students. Those percentages are lower than the vast majority of states.  

The rate for Oregon's large white student population is also low. At 77 percent, it's 12 points below the national average. The graduation rate for Oregon's Asian students — 86 percent — is much closer to the national average for Asians, 91 percent.

But states are not the same when it comes to students going through high school: requirements and the flexibility provided to students can differ from one state to another, affecting how difficult it is to finish high school in different parts of the country. A reporting effort from 2015  from NPR, OPB and other public radio stations found significant differences in what states expect from high school students.


That same year, OPB asked a number of people active in Oregon education why they think the state's graduation rate is so low. Their responses suggest students can have lots of reasons for not completing high school — from academic difficulties to changes in life circumstances to differing attitudes among educators and parents about school.