McKay High and South Salem High saw the largest gains in graduation rates; three SKPS schools’ rates now more than 90%

Graduation numbers continue to rise in Salem-Keizer Public Schools (SKPS), as rates released today by the Oregon Department of Education show that nearly eight in 10 students graduated in four years. Nearly 84 percent of students complete high school in four years, meaning they may pursue GEDs or extended diplomas.

The biggest leap in graduation rates came from Black and African American students, which jumped 19 percentage points from the previous year. Graduation rates for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students as well as American Indian and Alaska Native students also grew by about nine points each.

“This is no coincidence,” said Director of Student Equity, Access and Achievement Cynthia Richardson. “Our community outreach specialists work tirelessly to foster a sense of belonging for our historically underserved populations while working one-on-one with students to remove barriers to success. Coupled with the move districtwide to grow our culturally relevant teaching with equitable, diverse and inclusive practices, we are turning the dial on achievement for our children.”

The district graduation rate of 79.13 percent represents more than a seven-point gain since 2016 and brings SKPS within one point of the state average. The most notable gains were at McKay High and South Salem High, where graduation rates increased by 6.3 points and 5.96 points respectively.

The successes weren’t limited to South Salem and McKay – McNary High, Sprague High and West Salem High all had graduation rates above 90 percent. North Salem High maintained large gains seen the previous year while growing its five-year graduation rate by eight points.

“When we see this growth year-over-year, we know that our systems, supports and interventions are working,” said Superintendent Christy Perry. “Just look at our students who came to us learning English as evidence. When they are able to exit that program before high school, they graduate almost 83 percent of the time. Our students’ abilities to learn new languages are assets, and we’ve shifted our mindsets to see them as such.”

SKPS is one of the most diverse districts in the state with students speaking 81 different languages. The graduation rate for Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders grew by nearly nine percentage points from 2018. Forty percent of SKPS students identify as Hispanic or Latino, and the graduation rate among those students grew by almost 2.5 percentage points from the previous year.

At the district’s non-traditional programs, success is more than a graduation rate. At the Early College High School, the school’s 95.83 percent graduation rate tells the story of 49 students who received unique education offerings and college credit through a partnership with Chemeketa Community College. At Roberts High, 44 students earned diplomas and three earned modified diplomas, but another 105 students earned GEDs, meaning nearly half of the district’s students with the most complex needs are completing school.

Of the district’s 42,000 students, 16 percent receive special education services. “The high school experience is about so much more than receiving an education,” said South Salem High School Principal Lara Tiffin recently when South Salem High was honored as a National Unified Champion School by the Special Olympics. “High school is about building lifelong relationships and developing important life skills to be successful upon graduation.” Programs like unified sports at South Salem High helped grow graduation rates for students with disabilities by 4.65 points districtwide. The 62.63 percent graduation rate has grown by nearly 20 points since 2014-15.

Career Technical Education (CTE), another district program, also played a significant role in helping students succeed in high school. Almost 90 percent of students who participated in CTE graduated, and more than 95 percent of CTE concentrators graduated. With the passing of the 2018 Bond Measure, CTE spaces at all comprehensive high schools as well at Roberts High are being expanded to provide more course offerings.

Class of 2019 Fast Facts:

  • $33,567,905 in scholarships earned (almost $10 million more than the previous year)
  • 2,320 diplomas
  • 107 modified diplomas
  • One adult high school diploma
  • 117 GEDs (an additional 15 students from other classes also earned GEDs during the year)
  • 34 alternative certificates
  • 128 continuing enrollment

Additional points of pride for comprehensive schools:

McKay Grad Rates 2020

McKay – 83.79%:

  • The graduation rate has grown by more than15 points since 2014-15
  • Almost four points higher than the state average
  • More than 88% of female students graduated in the Class of 2019
  • Nearly 85% of underserved races and ethnicities graduated in the Class of 2019

McNary Grad Rates 2020

McNary – 90.78%:

  • Second-highest graduation rate in the district and 11 points higher than the state average
  • Graduation rate has grown by almost eight points since the 2015-16 school year
  • Class of 2019 earned $9.4 million in scholarships, up $1 million from the previous year
  • Virtually all teachers have been AVID trained and the school is on the cusp of being validated as a National Demonstration School

North Grad Rates 2020

North Salem – 75.81%:

  • Saw a decrease of .99 of a point from 17-18 to 18-19, but still up 8.24 points from two years ago
  • Asian/Pacific Islander grew from 68.75% to 70.97%
  • Black/African American grew 25% to 50%
  • Multi-racial jumped from 70% to 94.12%
    Students with Disabilities grew from 55.22% to 66.30% and was above the state average by almost three points
  • Five-year graduation rate increased from 75.49% to 83.56%

South Grad Rates 2020

South Salem – 88.09%:

  • Experienced a six-point increase in graduation rates from the previous year
  • 100% of Black/African-American seniors graduated
  • 100% of American Indian/Native American seniors graduated
  • 85% of former English learners graduated
  • Dropout rate decreased from 2.56% to 1.51%