Graduation walk (Photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

The Philomath School District’s graduation rates continue to rank among the state’s best at 89.8%, according to data released Thursday by the Oregon Department of Education.

Susan Halliday, Philomath superintendent of schools, was pleased with the numbers.

“Our graduation rates for our students in Philomath continue to be high,” Halliday said during Thursday night’s School Board meeting. “Students continue to do well and when you think about a year of COVID, these are really exciting numbers to see because they could’ve gone down very, very easily.”

Broken down, Philomath High School’s 2020-21 four-year cohort graduation rate was 91.1%, which is up from the 2019-20 rate of 90.4%. Cohort refers to students that started and ended high school together with a diploma in four years.

The data breaks down into various student groups. For example, it showed that in 2020-21, 93.9% of Philomath students were involved with career technical education classes.

“To me, that tells me that CTE is very important to the students … that’s a very important part of staying engaged so that they will stick around and get a GED or a diploma and go on and become productive members of society,” School Board Chair Rick Wells said. “I’m liking those numbers.”

The PHS “completer rate” for 2020-21 was 95.1%. The completer rate includes students beyond the cohort, such as those who earn other completion credentials such as extended and adult high school diplomas or general equivalency diplomas.

Philomath Academy’s graduation rate for 2020-21 was measured at 87.9% with a completer rate of 90.9%. Kings Valley Charter School’s numbers were 84.6% for a graduation rate, which was up from the 83.3% in 2019-20, and 92.3% for a completer rate.

Wells said it was nice to see those numbers at the charter school, which he noted can show extremes either way with percentages because of the limited number of students.

Statewide, the 2020-21 graduation rate came in at 80.6% — the second-highest rate ever recorded in Oregon.

“We know districts continue to work hard to help those students still making progress towards graduation,” Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill said in a news release. “Over the summer, districts spent $24 million in funds allocated by Gov. (Kate) Brown and the Legislature to help more than 18,000 high school students earn credits towards graduation.”

Districts are also using funds from the Student Success Act to improve access and opportunities for students who have been historically underserved in the education system.

Said Gill, “Through unprecedented engagement with their communities, every district has their own plan to address student achievement.”

The statewide graduation rate has gone up 8 percentage points since 2014.