By Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Oregon schools raised the statewide high school graduation rate for the class of 2019 to 80% and slightly narrowed racial and economic inequities, according to figures made public early Thursday.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the biggest gains were among low-income students, whose on-time graduation rate rose 2 percentage points; students with disabilities, whose rate rose 3 percentage points; and students who were still learning English as their second language while in high school. The on-time graduation rate for that third group surged more than 4 percentage points to 60%.

In 2018, the overall graduation rate was 78.7 %.

State schools chief Colt Gill hailed what he called an “historic” achievement. He credited hard work in local school districts as well as a half-dozen statewide initiatives for the widespread improvement and the narrowing of racial and other gaps.

In particular, Gill said, the state is seeing the payoff from new programs designed to help specific groups of students — Native Americans, blacks, English language learners and migrants — in ways that respect their cultures, match their languages and use research-backed techniques.

Oregon’s graduation rate has been considered an embarrassment for many years, with it typically ranking in the very bottom tier of states. It won’t be known for many months how its new-and-improved rate ranks, given that other states are also registering improvements.

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