Rates for on-track graduation among ninth graders in Astoria and Seaside significantly declined during last school year’s pandemic disruptions.

The Oregon Department of Education released school district profiles for the 2020-21 school year that document student success at schools across the state. The data showed that 57% of ninth grade students in the Astoria School District were on track to graduate. The Seaside School District’s figure was 36%.

Graduation

The coronavirus pandemic disrupted on-track graduation rates for ninth graders in Astoria and Seaside.

In order for students to be on-track to graduate, they must have completed at least one-quarter of graduation requirements during their freshman year, including summer school.

The rate across Oregon last school year was 74%. The rates in Astoria and Seaside were regularly higher before the pandemic.

“The 57% doesn’t surprise me,” Astoria Superintendent Craig Hoppes said. “The majority of our high school kids were not in session last year, so when kids are not in school, we have a hard time engaging them. That’s what those numbers tell us. It was hard for kids to be able to learn at home.”

Hoppes said the school district is implementing programs to work with students to get them back on track after a tumultuous year of coronavirus restrictions.

“The way I frame the (numbers) is we need to get kids in school — at school — and we can help and support them when they are in-person a lot better than we can do remotely,” he said.

Seaside Superintendent Susan Penrod could not be reached for comment.

The other school districts in the county had higher on-track graduation rates. Seventy percent of ninth graders in the Warrenton-Hammond School District were on-track to graduate last school year.

Warrenton-Hammond Superintendent Tom Rogozinski called that number “moderately disappointing,” but understood how they got there.

“(It’s) pretty consistent with what we expected,” he said. “It’s hard to know — from a program evaluation standpoint with the pandemic influence — what to make of the data. We are putting some programs in place to mitigate some of the more disappointing parts of that data.”

The Knappa School District’s figure was the highest in the county at 90%.

“We’re very pleased to see those (numbers),” Knappa Superintendent Bill Fritz said. “We attribute that to the good work of our high school team. We have a team of teachers that work together — it’s called our high school on-track team — and they look at each individual student and make sure that they’re making appropriate progress and if they are struggling they reach out to the students and families to try to figure out how to help them get back in line with their academic learning.”

Jewell School District did not have enough students to qualify for an on-track graduation rate for ninth graders.

Although the rates for on-track graduation among ninth graders took a hit during the pandemic, on-time graduation rates for seniors continue to improve. That figure was 91% in Astoria, 74% in Warrenton-Hammond, 93% in Knappa, 80% in Seaside and 100% in Jewell.

The graduation rate across Oregon was 83% last school year.