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Native American Graduation Rate Still Low, But Making Gains In Oregon

Jason Mrachina

While Oregon’s high school graduation rate has improved, minority students – especially Native Americans – still lag behind their white classmates. KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.

New data shows 77 percent of Oregon students earned a diploma in four years…nearly 10 points more than the class of 2012.

Credit Oregon Department of Education / ODE
Graph showing 2017 high school graduation rates for different racial/ethnic groups in Oregon.

But with the exception of Asians, minority students all trail whites.  The Native American graduation rate is lowest, at 59 percent. Yet it’s still up nearly 6 percentage points from four years ago.

“I think we’re headed in the right direction,” says April Campbell, Indian Education Advisor with the state Department of Education.

The Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde member says native students struggle with racism, historical trauma, and poverty. But officials have taken initiative to improve attendance. Campbell says the passage of Senate Bill 13 will also help.

Credit Yesy Belajar Memotrek / Flickr.com

“$2 million was set aside to develop 4th, 8th, and 10th grade American Indian curriculum," she says.

"Students need to see themselves in the curriculum and in the classroom. Shifting what we’ve heard a lot from our families not being seen, kind of that invisibility?  To becoming visible.”

Oregon’s graduation rate is still below the national average of 84 percent.

Copyright 2018, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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