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SPS Graduates Students at Increasing Rate

For the second year in a row Springfield Public School’s graduation rate outpaces statewide gains. In another four percent increase, SPS graduation rates for both the 4- and 5-year cohorts hit a ten-year high watermark. 72.6 percent of students throughout the Springfield’s public school system are graduating within four years, up from 68.9 percent the previous year.

While increases were seen across the system, specifically, gains were made at Springfield High School where the graduation rate rocketed from 62.9 percent the previous year to 73.3 percent this year. Additionally, Springfield’s alternative programming offered through Gateways High School saw a 4-year completer rate of 39.1 percent up from 21.7 percent the year prior. Thurston High School and the Academy for Arts and Academics both saw small increases to their already above state average rates with 81.2 and 88 percent respectively.

These gains can be attributed to many factors, not the least of which is the targeted support provided by Measure 98 funding. However, gains of this degree would not be attainable, or sustainable without the dedicated, hard work of school staff to intentionally align coursework across the system, focus priorities and initiatives to guaranteed and proven instructional strategies, and support for student needs. “Graduation rates should be celebrated by our whole system,” Superintendent Smolnisky shared with staff Thursday as the rates became public, “they are the result of long days, hard work and years of investment by an entire system. Unlike other industries, education truly is a long game,” Smolnisky said. “The hand-off from year to year builds, but the fruit of our collective labor doesn’t necessarily materialize until years later.”

While growth can be seen in student groups across the board, instruction leader, Assistant Superintendent David Collins, notes there is still information to be gleaned from the data. For example, the district did see growth in the newly defined “former English Learners,” yet not quite at the same rate as the student body as a whole. To meet the needs of this subgroup, the district has been working in partnership with the Oregon Department of Education, to identify key strategies to support English language learners. Additionally, Collins shared, the district is now offering students the opportunity to take access testing through Second Language Inventory Protocol. Students are afforded the opportunity to demonstrate proficiency in a second language, such as their native language, and obtain credit toward the second language graduation requirement. “This essentially, frees up a student to access other coursework to support their on-track graduation trajectory, while honoring their native language,” Collins said.

The Springfield Public School Board is scheduled to review more thoroughly both district report card information, graduation data, and how they are directly supported by the current strategic plan during their January 28, work session.