Hermiston’s graduation rate increased slightly in 2016, but not as much as in neighboring districts and it remains below the state average.
Hermiston School District’s overall graduation rate for the 2015-2016 school year is 65.7 percent, compared to the previous school year’s 64.1 percent graduation rate. The state average is 74.8 percent.
Assistant superintendent Bryn Browning said the rates combine the statistics for Hermiston High School and the Innovative Learning Center, the district’s alternative school, which stopped operating this year.
The graduation rate for Hermiston High School in 2015-2016 is 87.6 percent, a jump from last year’s 86.5 percent. For the Innovative Learning Center, the graduation rate was 4.1 percent, but the completion rate — which includes receiving a GED or modified diploma — is 37.8 percent.
The Innovative Learning Center, which the district had operated for about five years, included students registered at the district’s online program, taking alternative courses of study or working toward a GED or modified diploma. Though that program will no longer operate through the district, the online program will still be available to all grade levels.
As of this school year, Browning said, those students will no longer be counted as separate from Hermiston High School.
“The point of (the center) was that it was a place for students unlikely to meet graduation requirements in a standard instructional day,” Browning said. “We found out from the Oregon Department of Education that we can have the same students as part of Hermiston High School.”
Browning said rates were low at the center because graduation was not the goal for all students there.
“The focus for all Innovative Learning Center students was not always a high school diploma,” Browning said. “It could be a modified diploma or an extended diploma or a GED.”
In addition to the overall rates for each school and district, the ODE report breaks down graduation data into various subcategories such as gender, race or ethnicity, and economic status.
Brown said the district is always keeping an eye on certain subgroups, such as economically disadvantaged students and underserved races and ethnicities.
The district’s elementary schools, she said, all receive Title I funding, which is aimed at schools with high populations of poverty.
“We concentrate those resources on the elementary schools,” Browning said. “Research shows early learning is the best place to catch those kids.”
She added that all students receive academic intervention if they’re not at the level they need to be.
Browning said that some categories for graduation rates change every year, making it difficult to compare rates over time. But she said the general graduation rate for Hermiston High School has gradually improved for the past several years.
Browning said while the district doesn’t set a specific goal for graduation rates each year, they expect the percentage of students graduating to increase every year.
“We hold the school district’s goal that all of our students will continue to improve,” she said.