Hermiston saw a large increase in graduation rates in 2018.

The Oregon Department of Education released its 2017-18 graduation rates Thursday morning. Umatilla County’s schools all hovered within a few points of the state average, but superintendents say they’ll continue to work toward improved performance for all students.

Hermiston now sits at 74.2 percent for their four-year graduation rate. Last year, the district’s graduation rate was 8.4 points lower, at 65.82 percent.

The number is still a few points below the state’s average of 78.68, but Hermiston Superintendent Tricia Mooney said the district is pleased with the growth. But she said they didn’t want to just focus on graduation numbers.

“There are two numbers we were really looking at,” Mooney said. “The four-year cohort graduation rate, and the four-year cohort completion rate.”

Mooney said the completion rate includes students who received a GED or an extended diploma. The completer rate for 2017-18 was 87.47, five points above the state’s four-year completion rate of 82.53.

She said the work of students and staff showed in the improved graduation rates, but she was also excited about the above-average completion rate.

“That’s still important to me, because the students who left are still prepared for what they’re going to do next,” she said.

Mooney said there is still work to do, but they plan to focus even more on tactics they’ve already implemented.

She said the hiring of graduation coach Omar Medina has been one positive change, as well as collecting data to help them figure out where students need more help.

Across all grade levels, she said, they’re focusing on more attendance efforts.

“I think we’re breaking down silos of work,” she said. “We’re not looking at anything different for next year, we’re looking at staying the course.”

Other schools in Umatilla County saw improvement as well. Umatilla School District cleared the statewide rate by nearly six points, graduating students at a rate of 84.16 percent in 2017-18. Their rates were up from 81.72 percent the previous year.

Superintendent Heidi Sipe said via email that she was proud of students’ continued success, but their goal is still helping all students receive a high school diploma, whether in four years or a few years longer.

“We continue to welcome our non-completing students back until age 21 to finish their diplomas,” Sipe said.

“While those students do not always count in graduation calculations, they count in our community and we are honored to support students until they earn their diplomas.”

Stanfield School District fell just below the state average, with a 76.92 percent graduation rate. Stanfield had 42 students in its 2017-18 class.

Echo School graduated 87.5 percent of its students, in a class of 34 students.

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