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Evergreen, Vancouver school districts report increases in graduation rates

Both districts report numbers up sharply from five years ago and ahead of much of the state

VANCOUVER — Graduation rates for Clark County’s two largest school districts are trending upwards. This week Vancouver School District and Evergreen Public Schools released their preliminary high school graduation rates, and things are largely positive.

Full graduation rates for each school and the state are generally released by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) in February, but districts have preliminary numbers now. 

Vancouver and Evergreen School Districts reported increases in graduation rates this week. Stock photo
Vancouver and Evergreen School Districts reported increases in graduation rates this week. Stock photo

In the case of Evergreen, the district says 87.5 percent of students graduated on time in June. They expect the number will climb closer to 90 percent as students recover credits and pass required tests after finishing their senior year.

“We have been thoughtful and methodical in identifying students early in their high school career who may struggle and need additional assistance. It could be anything from improving attendance, to reducing test-taking anxiety to looking for a personalized approach to a subject,” said Bill Oman, executive director of Secondary Education in a release from the district. “In particular, we have two high schools — Legacy and Heritage – that have made great strides in helping students succeed and successfully get to graduation.”

Evergreen says all six high schools in their system have shown gains in overall graduation rates over the past three years. Statewide, schools with similar enrollment saw grad rates from 79 to 82 percent on average, meaning Evergreen is outpacing much of the state.

Meanwhile Vancouver School District says they expect overall on-time graduation for this past June to end up at 85 percent, a three percent increase from 2017 and an 11 point jump from 2014. For comparison, in 2010 the district’s on-time graduation rate was just 64 percent.

“This 85 percent on-time graduation rate reflects the hard work occurring at every grade level and in every school,” said Superintendent Steve Webb. “It’s a testament that all students can be successful with the right kinds of opportunities and support so generously provided by our employees, families and our Vancouver community.”

One area of concern is graduation rates for the district’s black students, which declined from 82 percent in 2017 to 71 percent this year. Hispanic students are graduating at an 80 percent rate, up from just 57 percent in 2014.

One particular bright spot are low income students receiving free or reduced price lunches. Graduation rates for those high school seniors jumped from 61 percent four years ago to nearly 80 percent this past June.

The district praises an emphasis on higher quality, standards-based curriculum, which most teachers are now fully trained and ready to implement. They have also focused more on early learning programs to engage students who might be showing signs of struggling.

“By improving outcomes for children in school and helping more students cross the 12th grade finish line, we can prepare them for future success in life. The entire learning community of Vancouver Public Schools should proud of this work,” said Webb.

Statewide the on-time graduation rate for 2018 was 79.3 percent, or 82.4 percent for students completing graduation requirements within five years of finishing high school.

Washington State graduation requirements, which must be achieved by public school students in order to be eligible for a diploma, can be found at: http://www.k12.wa.us/GraduationRequirements.

Three Clark County schools were recently among 91 in the state awarded OSPI’s 2018 School of Distinction award. The award recognizes schools that show continuous improvement in English language arts, math, and overall graduation rates over a five-year period. River HomeLink in Battle Ground received the award for the third time. In Vancouver School District Benjamin Franklin Elementary School also received the honor for the third time. Lewis and Clark High School was also recognized.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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