• PPS Graduation Rates Rise to 84.4%

    Español| Tiếng Việt| 中文| Soomaali| Русский
     grad collage

    PPS held its 2021 graduation ceremonies at Providence Park. (Photos by Beth Conyers)

    On Thursday, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) released graduation rates for the 2020-21 school year, with 84.4% of Portland Public Schools  students earning a high school diploma within four years, an impressive result and a steady increase for the 12th year in a row.

    The Class of 2021’s 84.4% graduation rate is a slight increase from last year’s 83.7% rate. This is a 0.7% increase over last year and is the highest graduation rate for PPS students since the adoption of the four-year cohort graduation model in 2010. Additionally, 90% of the Class of 2021 graduated within five years – an impressive rate of success for PPS students.

    “We are proud of our students for their resilience and tenacity during a time when the pandemic has brought about significant disruptions to public education and their learning experience,” shared Guadalupe Guerrero, Superintendent of Portland Public Schools. “We attribute the continued positive and incremental growth in our students earning a high school diploma at PPS to the dedicated efforts of our educators, staff and community partners to wrap around each one of our students’ success.”  

    The newly released data for the 2020-21 academic year illustrates that at PPS:

    • Students continue to graduate at a higher and increased rate than their peers in Multnomah County and across the state of Oregon.
    • Three in four Black and Latino students graduated within four years. 
    • More than half of PPS comprehensive high schools posted graduation rates above 90%, including Jefferson (91%) and Benson (93%). 
    • Benson High School, PPS’s career and technical education (CTE) focused school, graduated 91% of Black students and 90% of Latino students from the class of 2021, 15% higher than the district average for Black and Latino students. 
    • Students with disabilities at Benson (88%), Jefferson (87%), Lincoln (86%) and Franklin (80%) exceeded the district average for graduation rates for students with disabilities. 

    These graduation rates are a result of concerted efforts by school leaders, educators, PPS staff, and partners to better ensure and support students in meeting graduation requirements, particularly during a time when a global pandemic has impacted so many aspects of a student’s life. PPS high schools continue to implement a districtwide multi-year High School Success Plan to strengthen educational programming at the secondary level.

    Additionally, students have seen a steady increase of credit earning opportunities made available to them, including after school, on weekends, and during the summer, to better ensure students remain on track to graduation. The strategic investment of new additional state funding sources, including Measure 98 and Student Investment Account monies, has provided additional credit earning options, school-based counselors and other supports, including targeted investments to strengthen CTE course offerings. Together, these services and supports create opportunities for PPS students to succeed in and through their postsecondary experience in Portland schools.

    “These graduation numbers for the Class of 2021 are a reflection of our educators, counselors, principals, community partners, and support staff, who together, in the midst of so much change, were determined and focused on seeing our students walk the graduation stage,” said Margaret Calvert, Regional Superintendent of Secondary Schools and Multiple Pathways to Graduation. “Our students from the Class of 2021 have demonstrated what our community calls for in our graduate portrait — namely resiliency, adaptability and future-oriented graduates. I am extremely proud of their collective success.”

    For the last four years, PPS has also continued to invest in culturally specific wrap-around services to enhance the support for students of color across our high schools. “We know that students are more likely to be engaged in their learning and more likely to graduate when high school experiences actively respond to barriers to success,” shared Dani Ledezma, Senior Advisor to the Superintendent on Racial Equity and Social Justice. “Seeing this steady progress is a powerful indication that partnering with community-led organizations sparks growth and success for students of color.” 

    The 84.4% graduation rate reflects a 25.8 percentage point increase in the overall graduation rate since 2009-2010, and a 4.8 percentage point increase in the last three years alone. 

    “I join our students and staff in celebrating our students’ incredible success graduating from PPS,” said Michelle DePass, Chair of the PPS Board of Education. “These new data are an important reminder that we still have much more work to do to bridge the gap between racial lines, particularly for our Black, Native American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students. We need to do everything we can to close this persistent achievement gap. My Board colleagues and I look forward to rolling up our sleeves and partnering with Superintendent Guerrero and district staff to ensure every student successfully completes high school and has a postsecondary plan.”