In the six previous years that Oregon measured how many of its students entered 10th grade on track, it was never lower than 78.5% — and that group of students went on to post a graduation rate of just 77%, second worst in the country in 2017. In 2020, the share of Oregon high school freshmen who passed enough classes to be on track for graduation plummeted to just 74%.
Nearly 12,000 freshmen failed too many classes during their 2020 ninth-grade year. Only 40% of students who’ve fallen short of the freshman on-track benchmark have gone on to graduate from high school, suggesting most of the 12,000 could wind up dropping out. High school dropouts struggle to find family wage jobs and drag down the state’s economy.
The Oregon Department of Education is hopeful that with in-person learning back this year, high schools have quickly restored systems and structures to detect and help freshmen in need before failure becomes inevitable.