The Oregon Department of Education on Thursday released its annual at-a-glance profiles for the state’s schools and school districts, providing families with easy-to-access data.

As in years past, the profiles include graduation rates for high schools — although those numbers are for students who graduated in 2018, and were originally released in January — as well as school populations, class sizes and demographic data. All information, except graduation rates, comes from the 2018-19 school year.

The profiles feature a few new elements. The state categorized students as nonbinary alongside male and female for some data sets, and included new data such as the percentage of a school’s teachers with more than three years of experience and the number of former students who enrolled in a two- or four-year college within one year of graduation.

Colt Gill, the director of the Oregon Department of Education, said these new additions, as well as the other data included in the profiles, were chosen after receiving input from various Oregon families, particularly those from underrepresented communities.

Gill said providing families and community members with accessible school-specific data will allow them to have a say in how local school districts spend incoming money from the $1 billion Student Success Act business tax.

One statewide statistic Gill and other state education officials said they were excited about was the slight decline in chronic absenteeism, or when a student misses 10 or more school days in a year.

Gill said 2018-19 marks the first school year since Oregon began reporting that statistic that the percentage of students who were chronically absent fell, from 20.5% in 2017-18 to 20.4% in 2018-19. Gill and Marnie Jewell, a state education specialist, credited the state Department of Education’s Every Day Matters campaign and corresponding support to school districts across the state with the improvement.

“Our hope is that our Every Day Matters campaign and work with individual districts have really helped us see a turnaround in that effort,” Gill said.

Central Oregon’s schools’ attendance numbers varied, with some schools posting higher rates of chronic absenteeism, and other schools managing to keep kids in class more often. The most dramatic shift was at Summit High School, where chronic absenteeism fell by 12%. A representative from Summit could not be reached.

Shay Mikalson, superintendent of Bend-La Pine Schools, said administrators and teachers across his school district have emphasized improving attendance.

“We have great leaders in all schools, Summit included, who know attendance matters,” he said. “They work hard with their teams to build relationships and make sure what we’re teaching engages kids.”

Redmond School District’s two high schools, Redmond and Ridgeview, had higher chronic absenteeism rates than the state average. Redmond’s superintendent, Mike McIntosh, said he was unhappy with his schools’ attendance numbers, but believed things were looking up.

“We’ve slowed the decline; we’ve managed the fall of those numbers, and I fully expect that graph to have an arrow in the opposite direction this coming year,” he said.

On the other hand, Ridgeview and Redmond high schools had more ninth graders on track to graduate than the state average. McIntosh said this was the result of those schools’ staff working hard to improve graduation rates, particularly for students who speak English as a second language, students living in poverty and other students from underrepresented groups.

Every Central Oregon major high school except three — Madras, Mountain View and La Pine — were above the state average for having ninth graders on track to graduate.

The Central Oregon schools that had the most graduates attend college were Summit, Sisters and Bend high schools — 79%, 72% and 67% of graduates in the class of 2018 enrolled in college from those three schools, respectively. The high school with the lowest college-going rate was La Pine High School, where 46% of its 2018 graduates enrolled in college.

Gill, Oregon’s education chief, said eventually he’d like to see the state track how many students chose other post-high school pathways, such as a trade or the military.

High school graduation rates for the 2018-19 school year will not be released until early 2020, according to Oregon Department of Education staff.

The profiles are available at www.ode.state.or.us/data/reportcard/reports.aspx.

— Reporter: 541-617-7854, jhogan@bendbulletin.com

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