New Secretary Of State Says Oregon Still Failing To Fix Graduation Rate

By Elizabeth Miller (OPB)
April 17, 2019 10:13 p.m.

Newly appointed Secretary of State Bev Clarno is out with her first report —  and it's about Oregon's dismal high school graduation rate.

In December 2017, the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office released a report suggesting ways the Oregon Department of Education could improve the state’s graduation rate – one of the lowest in the nation at 78.7% in 2018.


ODE agreed to the 13 recommendations, but leadership admitted the agency lacked resources to do everything the secretary of state asked.

More than a year later, Clarno's office released a follow-up report that says ODE still has a long way to go.

Out of those 13 recommendations, ODE has fully implemented three. The agency has published a report on student mobility and graduation data, and published strategies to help improve graduation rates. Strategies include school based health centers and offering breakfast in the classroom.


The agency has partially implemented another four recommendations, creating a group that meets monthly about graduation rates and developing a policy package in the governor's budget on student engagement.

But there are a few things ODE hasn’t done, according to  Clarno’s report. They haven’t collected data on credit attainment – ODE management said that would require funding from the Legislature.

And ODE hasn’t yet made agency recommendations focused on middle school.

The Secretary of State’s Office suggested ODE help coordinate support for student transitions between middle and high school. ODE said it doesn’t have resources to do that.

There are some High School Success funds being used in middle schools. But it’s not a lot. As of May 2018, ODE management said districts project spending 6% of High School Success funds on middle schools.

In a statement, ODE Director Colt Gill responded to the report by focusing on the state’s 2% graduation rate increase.

“I welcome the Secretary of State’s efforts to highlight our successes at ODE to lead this work across our schools and districts and to point out where additional focus is necessary,” Gill said.