Graduation rates across Clatsop County and throughout the state were on the uptick last school year, according to state figures.
The state defines on-time graduation as taking four years. Overall, schools statewide have increased the graduation rate at least five years in a row, slowly creeping up from 72 percent in the 2013-14 school year to 78.7 percent last year.
Oregon schools still lag behind the 84 percent national graduation rate recorded in the 2015-16 school year by the National Center for Education Statistics.
Astoria High School recorded a 77.7 percent graduation rate, which Principal Lynn Jackson said was the highest in his 12 years as an administrator. He pointed toward a focus statewide on making sure students are on track as they enter high school.
“That transition in that eighth- and ninth-grade year, that transition is vital for students creating a solid academic standing,” he said. “It is very difficult to help students catch up on credit or skill deficiencies when they’re in their 11th year.”
Jackson also pointed to Measure 98, passed by voters in 2016 to improve career-technical, college credit and dropout prevention programs in high school. The measure has helped fund a six-week summer school to help about 20 at-risk eighth-graders get a head start, Jackson said. The measure has also helped the school district add more diverse programs such as agriculture and a Future Farmers of America club.
“These are the type of programs that excite students in their passions and interest, and in turn their learning,” Jackson said.
Jackson also credited partnerships Astoria has created with groups like the Northwest Regional Education Service District and the Lower Columbia Hispanic Council to help low-income and Hispanic students.
Warrenton High School, with a 76.7 percent graduation rate, continued a steady upward climb extending back at least seven years. The school district has been lauded for academic success despite containing more than half the students in the county considered homeless.
Seaside, which had dipped in the 2016-17 school year, was back up to 73.4 percent last year. The school district has commonly posted a graduation rate of around 75 percent.
Knappa, which posted a 20 percent increase in its graduation rate in 2016-17 at more than 90 percent, again improved, last year reaching 94.3 percent.
Jewell School, a small K-12 campus, posted a 78.7 percent graduation rate last year, a 10 percent increase from 2016-17 but down from the last 100 percent graduation rate the school district achieved in 2013-14.