100%, 100%, 97%, 93%: Four KCSD high schools boast 2022 grad rates above 93%

Four high schools in the Klamath County School District boasted graduation rates above 93 percent in 2022 and two of those – Lost River Junior/Senior High School and Chiloquin Junior/Senior High School – had perfect graduation rates of 100 percent.

For Lost River Junior/Senior High School, it was the fourth year in a row that the school graduated 100% of its cohort on time.

“The secret? The secret is everyone cares – the staff, the students, and the parents,” said Jamie Ongman, who served as Lost River’s principal through 2022 before taking a promotion as KCSD director of school operations. “The 100% not only reflects their graduation rate, but also the amount of effort students, staff, and parents put in from year to year. Staff tirelessly invest in the students, students set goals and work to achieve them, and parents give the school unwavering support.”

Lost River Principal Angie Wallin credited the community as well as teachers and students.

“Our teachers and students are committed to achieving graduation,” she said. “Education is valued by the community, and families partner with the school to see that our students succeed.”

The other two KCSD schools with above 93% graduation rates were Henley High School at 97.01% and Mazama High School at 93.53%.

Overall, the county school district’s four-year on-time graduation rate of 80.40% represents a 2.41 percentage point increase from 2021, and comes in less than 1 percentage point below the state average of 81.3, according to data released Jan. 26 by the Oregon Department of Education. KCSD’s overall rate includes Falcon Heights, an alternative high school for students who are behind on credits and at risk of dropping out.

Bonanza Junior/Senior High School’s 86.11% rate, though down from the past two years, was still nearly 5 percentage points above the state average. Gilchrist Junior/Senior High School at 88.89% remained steady from 2021. Small schools often see large rate changes because one student can represent 3-8 percentage points.

Falcon Heights Alternative School saw an 11 percentage point increase in its on-time graduation rate in 2022, jumping from 32.46% in 2021 to 43.48% in 2022. Falcon Heights’ four-year completer rate, which includes students who earn GEDs, was 55.07%.

KCSD Superintendent Glen Szymoniak is proud of the success of the district’s 2022 graduates. However, the goal remains to provide the support and opportunities needed so every student can graduate.

“We are working hard to provide extra supports to students who need them,” Szymoniak said. “The district will continue to invest in programs that engage and inspire young people to be successful.”

The district’s 2022 rate, though an improvement from the pandemic-impacted 2021 rate, is still lower than 2020’s 83.89%, which represented six years of steady improvement.

District leaders say more social emotional supports, including a counselor in every school, as well as implementation of new math curriculum and small-group and project-based learning in the elementary schools is expected to positively impact student learning and, ultimately, graduation rates. At the junior high and high school levels, the district has increased the number of CTE (career and technical education) programs and dual credit pathways for students.

Some schools focus on completer rates as well as four-year cohort rates because they offer programs geared towards more at-risk students. These programs offer GEDs and extended diplomas, which although recognized as high school completion, do not factor into the on-time four-year graduation rate. These graduates are factored into the four-year completer rate.

The district’s 2022 four-year cohort completer rate of 83.96% was slightly above the state average of 83.78%.

The district in 2022 continued to see a disparity between male students and their female peers, with females graduating in higher percentages than their male classmates.

“This is something the district is aware of and working on,” said Jeff Bullock, KCSD director of school improvement and secondary programs. “In 2022, we were successful in helping a significant group of male students pass their GED tests and become high school completer’s.

“Everyone is working hard to overcome the challenges of the past several years,” he added. “I’m really glad to see our graduation and completer rates increase, and I credit the efforts of our staff in making the difference. I also want to acknowledge the work of parents and students who know the importance of regular attendance for student success.”