Oregon graduation rate holds steady for second year following slight COVID dip – Oregon Capital Chronicle:

Despite beginning high school during a global pandemic, Oregon’s class of 2023 maintained a relatively high on-time graduation rate, and some groups set new records.

More than 37,000 Oregon students graduated in 2023, 81.3% of the class, according to Oregon Department of Education data published Thursday. That rate tied that of the class of 2022 but marked a slight decline from the pre-pandemic class of 2019. In that class, 85% graduated on time, marking a high for Oregon.

Can these kids read, write, add or subtract? Do they have even the most basic historical or scientific literacy? Graduation rate may not be meaningless, but it’s close since a high school diploma no longer indicates that a person have attained a certain level of skill. 

I love that the Oregonian take on this same story was decidedly more pessimistic: Oregon graduation rate flat, with setbacks for Black, Indigenous students:

Oregon’s high school graduation rate plateaued in the pandemic’s wake, new data released Thursday from the Oregon Department of Education shows.

The 81.3% of the class of 2023 who graduated on time is identical to the rate posted by the class of 2022, which was Oregon’s second highest graduation rate.

But rates for key demographic subgroups, including Indigenous and Black students, trended down from the previous year and remain stubbornly below state averages and their white and Asian counterparts, at 68% and 73% respectively.

That some groups are trending down is remarkable in itself. It’s never been easier to get a high school diploma. 

…Holding steady overall is in some way a relative relief for education officials and parents alike, since both test scores and chronic absenteeism have stubbornly failed to rebound from COVID-era lows despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent on post-pandemic aid to schools.

Test scores being terrible is because public education is failing; chronic absenteeism is one reason why. (There are other reasons, as I’ve discussed previously, like the politicization of the classroom and general refusal to hold students accountable.) 

Follow-up from the Statesman-Journal:

According to 2022 11th grade proficiency results, which would represent the Class of 2023, 46.9% of students were proficient in English, 20.4% were proficient in math and 31.7% were proficient in science. However, the participation rate in these categories was between 55-64%, so officials said these may not be a full reflection of all student proficiency.

Officials are correct. These results may not fully reflect student proficiency. It could be worse.