Public Schools

Portland Public Schools Students Achieved An 83.7% Graduation Rate

Written by Mamie M. Arndt

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Graduation rates for the 2019-2020 academic year were released today with impressive results for Portland Public Schools, whose high school seniors achieved an 83.7% graduation rate, the highest since adopting a four-year cohort model in 2010 and slightly higher than the 2019-20 statewide rate of 82.6%.

Among the numbers for the 2019-2020 academic year include:

  • Graduation rate for students of color is over 75%
  • Black students had a 4.4 percentage point increase from 2018-2019
  • Native American students had a graduation rate of 57.1%
  • Latinx students had a 4.1 percentage point increase from 2018-2019
  • Students with disabilities had a 38.9 percentage point gain in the past 10 years and a 7.2 increase from 2018-2019

Portland Public Schools’ three-year graduation trends include:

  • Black students had a 12.3 percentage point gain
  • Latinx students had a 4.8 percentage point gain
  • Multi-racial (other ancestries) students had a 4.8 percentage point gain
  • White students had 5.2 percentage point gain

“We still have work to do, but we are pleased that the upward trend of students earning their degrees is continuing,” stated Guadalupe Guerrero, Superintendent of Portland Public Schools. “The 2019-20 numbers also serve as another indication that the investments we are making, the supports and counseling we are providing and our overall attention to students, are all paying dividends. Much of this work is made possible by funding streams including Measure 98 and the Student Investment Account, and all of our success is due to the immeasurable hard work by our educators, administrators, community-based partners and, especially, our students.”

Oregon adopted a more rigorous four-year cohort model for graduation in the spring of 2010. It considers students to be on-time graduates if they earn a regular or modified diploma within four years of entering high school. Portland Public Schools has seen a steady increase in the on-time graduation rate of its students with a 25.1 percentage point increase in the overall graduation rate since 2009-2010, and a 5.8 percentage point increase in the last three years alone.

For nearly 10 years, PPS has invested in culturally specific wrap-around services to support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students at high schools. In 2019, Open School – Step Up, SEI, and Latino Network provided wrap-around services that contributed to these successful graduation outcomes.

“Our commitment to Racial Equity and Social Justice in our Theory of Action is evident in these results,” stated Dani Ledezma, Senior Advisor for Racial Equity and Social Justice.

Seven years ago, PPS began to incorporate the national best practices for alternative school students and transformed Alliance High School’s model to focus on social-emotional wellness, project-based learning and growth in Career and Technical Education (CTE) as a pathway to graduation and post-secondary options. Following the success of these programs and models, all PPS high school administrators, teachers, social workers and community partners, continue to focus on deeply understanding their students.

“Our ability to build on our relationships with students, quickly respond to data and learn best practices from our alternative programs also contribute to the success our students are experiencing,” stated Korinna Wolfe, Area Senior Director of Multiple Pathways to Graduation. “Educators are making a difference, they want to serve our students in ways that are best for each student.”

Portland Public Schools’ graduation gains for 2019-20 exceeded gains for the state of Oregon as a whole.


This press release was produced by Portland Public Schools. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

About the author

Mamie M. Arndt