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Medford School District Celebrates Highest Graduation Rate in its History

Medford School District Celebrates Highest Graduation Rate in its History
Graduation rate for students experiencing disabilities jumps more than 18-percentage points in two years. 

The Medford School District (MSD) is celebrating another year of substantial gains in its graduation rates. 80.5% of the ‘Class of 2018’ graduated within four years. That’s an unprecedented gain of 15-percentage points in the last five years. Additionally, Medford students led the state average by nearly two percentage points.

“This achievement is the result of dedicated efforts of teachers and staff in Kindergarten through twelfth grade to remove barriers to learning while maintaining high expectations for students,” said Superintendent Dr. Brian Shumate.

The four-year cohort graduation rate follows students from their first year in high school to the summer after their fourth year in high school. This year’s four-year cohort is made up of students who started high school in the fall of 2014. They were able to earn their diplomas through the summer of 2018.

The students who did not graduate in four years will have another year to receive their diploma. They will become part of the five-year cohort. This year’s five-year cohort includes students from the ‘Class of 2017’ who used an additional year to graduate.

North Medford High School has the highest graduation rate of any comprehensive high school in the Rogue Valley.  More than 91% of the ‘Class of 2018’ graduated - a more than 7-percentage point increase in the last two years.

South Medford High School saw about a 2-percentage point increase since last year at 85%.

Central Medford High School dipped slightly to 30%. CMHS opened in the 2010-2011 year with a 9% graduation rate of its 200 students. The school is celebrating an increase of 21% in 7 years.

“Students in our care often experience trauma or difficult environments that are beyond their control,” CMHS principal Amy Herbst said. “We provide wrap around services to remove barriers to students’ success at school and through a variety of community partnerships.”

Logos Public Charter School graduated 79 of the 85 students in the Class of 2018 cohort to post a graduation rate of nearly 93%.

“The Medford School District has a commitment to providing an exceptional education to all students,” said Michelle Cummings, Chief Academic Officer. “This requires a focus on creating equity for historically underserved students, English Language Learners, economically disadvantaged and homeless students and students who experience disabilities.”

Community agencies and business partners support this work. The four-year graduation rate shows outstanding efforts of our staff and community partners are paying off.

The data shows significant gains in graduation rates for both students who experience disabilities and students who were English Language Learners. The MSD graduation rate for students who experience disabilities has increased to 74.36%, up 18-percentage points since 2016. This is far above the state’s percentage for this student group of 60.57%. For students who previously qualified as English Learners 80% graduated in four years, up from 68.9% the prior year.

At South Medford High School, 81% of students with disabilities received their four-year diploma. That is a significant 24-percentage point increase in just one year.

“The District’s continued effort to increase inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities through the use of co-teaching is having positive outcomes,” said Tania Tong, Director of Special Education and Services.

Tong noted the Check and Connect Mentor Program for students making an impact by focusing on “removing barriers for students and providing 1:1 coaching and encouragement to students who may be at risk of not completing high school.”

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, the demonstration of essential skills, and career education credit, 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.

Completing these requirements can earn a student an MSD Honors or MSD Standard Diploma. Oregon districts, including Medford, also offer a range of diplomas as allowed by statute including the Oregon Diploma, Modified Diploma, and Extended Diplomas.

The MSD credits many strategies for the increasing graduation rates.

Short-term success strategies include:

- The relentless pursuit of every single student, every single day

- Analyzing credit acquisition for every student, every quarter, and providing interventions for credit recovery early in the process

- Tracking daily student attendance, a secondary school attendance program has resulted in an increase in daily high school attendance across all grades

Long-term success strategies include the Pathways Program, said Superintendent Dr. Brian Shumate. “Students are finding relevance and meaning in their daily experiences. They’re finding purpose in school by molding it with traditional coursework, online school and college courses.”

Other strategies include:

- Utilization of Measure 98 funds for dropout prevention and career/college readiness programs in high school

- Improvement in case management to support the student’s mental health by growing partnerships with Family Solutions and The Maslow Project

- Increasing post-high school options for students by paying for students’ college tuition while in high school

“Achieving the MSD’s highest graduation rate in its history is only possible with a staff dedicated to helping every student reach graduation,” Dr. Shumate said, “The district honors the hard work demonstrated by all of our staff members to push kids toward to graduation and thanks families for their continued support.”