Oregonians have heard before that their graduation rates are some of the lowest in the country. The Oregon Department of Education has released its statewide report card, and some data compiled by the state’s Legislative Policy and Research Office sheds additional light on how Oregon students don’t always face a level playing field when compared with other states.
The state report card included data on graduation and dropout rates, school funding, attendance, test results and progress for students in specific demographics.
Numbers for the two reports did not always match up, and the data comparing various states was pulled from several different years. For some data points, the year was not specified.
The data from the Legislative Policy and Research Office was compiled after a request from State Representative Greg Smith’s office, made in hopes of better understanding why Oregon’s graduation rates are suffering. They asked for a side-by-side comparison of Oregon and 10 other states: five high-performing states, and five comparable Western states.
Against high-performing states Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Vermont and Minnesota, and western states Colorado, Utah, Washington, Nevada and Arizona, the data showed how Oregon stacked up in eleven categories.
Among the findings:
• Oregon displayed lower scores than the other states in most categories. Oregon’s graduation rate was 72 percent, lower than all the states listed except for Nevada, at 70 percent. New Jersey’s graduation rate was highest, at 89 percent.
• Oregon also had one of the shortest school years, with students in school 161 days. Only Colorado’s was shorter, at 160 days. Most other states listed attended school for 180 days.
• Oregon had 22.18 pupils per teacher, one of the highest. Utah and Arizona had comparable ratios, while Vermont’s was the lowest, at 10.59 and new Jersey’s was 11.96.
• Oregon and Washington had the highest percentages of chronic absenteeism, at 22.7 and 24.8 percent, respectively.
• Oregon also requires 24 credits to graduate, tied with New Jersey for the highest number among the states surveyed. Massachusetts and Colorado have no statewide credit requirement, and Connecticut, Vermont and Washington require 20 credits.
On the Oregon statewide report card, the ODE reported that its teacher-to-student ratio is decreasing, and was at 20.26 for 2016-2017 (average of all three school levels). It said 95 percent of its funding goes to school buildings and student services, and that it spent $11,241 per student in 2015-2016.
Data for the state report card is available at the state’s education website.