Letter: Graduation rates don’t tell full story

Originally published in The Oregonian – February 5, 2021

The Jan. 21 article on graduation rates is another example of how the success of schools should not be measured solely on four-year graduation rates, especially for schools that serve at-risk students (“Oregon graduation rate climbs to 83%, a new high, but schools may have lowered the bar for a diploma,” Jan. 21). Insight School of Oregon – Painted Hills is designed for academically at-risk students, including those who previously dropped out of school. For many students, Insight is their last hope at attaining a diploma.

Over 82% of Insight students transfer from another high school credit deficient, and 9 out of 10 are not on track to graduate in their four-year cohort. Yet, the graduation rate measure holds that whenever a student transfers to a new school, no matter how many credits behind, they must graduate “on time” in their fourth year. Is it really the fault of a school for not graduating a transfer student who came in as senior but has the credits of a sophomore?

At Insight, we help students attain a high school diploma, whenever they enroll, regardless of their need, and set them on a path towards a career and a future. We have made tremendous progress. For example, our African American student graduation rate increased from 57% in 2019 to 67% in 2020. Our goal is to get them back on track and get them across the finish line.

The four-year cohort graduation rate was not designed for alternative schools like Insight. That metric will not define our success – our graduates will.

Sonimar Villegas, Prineville

Villegas is head of school for Insight School of Oregon.

To learn more about Insight School of Oregon – Painted Hills, visit or-ph.insightschools.net

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