District Graduation Rate Trends Upward

The Oregon Department of Education has released statewide graduation rates from 2015-16. David Douglas High School continued to trend upward, as it has for the past several years. DDHS continues to outperform the state average, especially among districts with a similar demographic makeup.

The ODE has highlighted the work at DDHS, and here is a summary they prepared:

“David Douglas High School continued to show impressive growth in overall graduation rate, which reached 77% in 2015-16. Growth in many student groups contributed to the overall growth. The graduation rate for Black students reached 73%, Hispanic students reached 78%, and economically disadvantaged students reached 77%.

Principal John Bier explained that this year was the first year of a three year goal to raise their graduation rate above the national average. Quality staff, data driven practices, and being creative about getting kids on-track all help students at David Douglas succeed.

Bier said, “We have really good teachers. In terms of execution of lessons, but also in terms of how relational they are with kids.” Staff continually to work on improving instruction. Most teachers have been trained using ‘Constructing Meaning’ over the past few years, a particular instructional method that is working well at David Douglas. They are successfully engaging students using well-crafted lessons and by showing a passion for their subject. This helps teachers build strong connections with students.

The school’s data team reviews student data in detail every month to make sure students are staying on-track. The credit retrieval program has been particularly helpful in helping students who do get off-track.

A big piece of keeping students on-track is keeping them engaged. David Douglas has a variety of after school and summer school activities. Some of these are made possible by a 21st Century Learning grant. In addition, leaders are working on providing more CTE classes. All of these options help students find connection points with the school and help them stay engaged.”

DDHS Assistant Principal Linda Vancil elaborated on the importance of Career Technical Education as a means of keeping many students engaged and on track to graduate. Here is her summary:

“David Douglas High School has been very intentional when developing Career Technical Education course offerings for our students. Visioning sessions were conducted to frame our direction in regard to CTE. We have taken into account industry demand, student interest and teacher expertise. It has been a consistent goal to articulate college credit for all of our CTE offerings. In addition our counseling staff meets individually with every student in grades 8-11 to select courses and set future goals. All 3,000 students have a one on one meeting to solidify their plans and ensure a schedule that meets their needs.

David Douglas High School’s mission statement is “A place where connections are made.” This permeates everything we do. We have a dynamic teaching staff that works hard to relate to students of every background. Our staff has developed after school programs and summer offerings to promote our CTE courses. The variety of in-school offerings and additional opportunities has enabled a greater number of our students to access programs.”

Here is Superintendent Ken Richardson’s statement on the recent graduation rate: “Our administration, teachers and support staff at David Douglas work hard everyday to provide a great education for our students. They believe in their students, and they’ve made raising graduation rates a priority. This increase is a direct reflection of their hard work. The students have also worked very hard and deserve credit for this increase.

In addition, our educators at the elementary and middle schools are very aware that all their students feed into David Douglas HS, and they’ve worked hard to prepare their students for that step.

At the same time, I know our high school staff is always looking to improve. They’ve made it their goal to raise our graduation rates above the national average, and I have confidence they will achieve that goal.”

The Oregonian has a search tool where you can view DDHS’ graduation rates, as well as other academic results tracked by the ODE. You can find that tool here: http://schools.oregonlive.com/grads/