PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Oregon is the worst state in the country when it comes to making sure kids graduate from high school on time.
According to the US Department of Education, the 2013 numbers show Oregon is at the bottom of the list — 49th of 49 — with a graduation rate of 69%.
Oregon graduation rates for 2014 will be released Thursday.
The state’s deputy superintendent, Rob Saxton, said Oregon needs to do better. Hanna Vaandering, the president of the Oregon Education Association, shared her concerns over lack of funding to large class sizes.
In a statement, Gov. Kitzhaber said, “This is unacceptable, and exactly why my K-12 budget both invests more than we did in 2013-15, but as importantly requires that our entire education system strategically address the types of achievement gaps we see reflected in these graduation numbers.”
“Any time a student doesn’t succeed it really is a blow to public education in Oregon,” Vaandering told KOIN 6 News. She leads the union representing about 45,000 educators.
“We have disinvested in education. When Measure 5 passed we started a steady decline in investing in our public schools,” she said. “We have the quality education commission that puts forward a proposal of what we should be providing to students, as far as a learning environment. And we’re billions of dollars short of providing that learning environment for students.”
Saxton said he thinks it’s “really important for people to remember that this class of kids we’re talking about were 3rd graders in 2003, when the budget was quite the mess. That 3rd grade reading is really important.”
Still, Oregon graduation rates between 2010 and 2013 have hovered around 68% to 69%.
To help make things better, Saxton said he will “advocate really hard in the coming (legislative) session” specifically for programs that will help kids succeed.
He wants “to make sure we have kids who are readers and who are on track to graduate when they move into high school. (I will) push for those programs very hard in the coming session and try and secure the funding for them. They are the difference makers for kids in our state.”
Saxton said Oregon just adjusted how it calculates graduation rates to be more inline with other states.