Most high schools in Malheur County see graduation rates rise, top state average

This chart shows the graduation rates for local school districts for the 2018-19 school year compared to the state average.

VALE – Recently released data from the Oregon Department of Education shows that the overall graduation rate for high schools in Malheur County has slightly improved and is above the state average.

Vale was the only local district to see a decline, but still remained well above the statewide mark.

The state average hit 80%, the highest statewide graduation rate recorded in Oregon. 

Vale had a graduation rate of 88% for the 2018-19 school year, down from 91% the year prior.

District officials said the dip was a result of the fluctuating numbers of students from year to year, and the effect a single student dropping out can have on the graduation rate for a relatively small class.

Countywide, districts in Malheur County graduated 86% of their seniors for the 2018-19 school year, up from 85% the year before.

In Malheur County, 304 diplomas were awarded, and there were 391 students in the four-year cohort, meaning students who began high school in the 2015-16 school year.

On the district level, the data showed that all local districts had higher graduation rates than the state average with the exception of Nyssa, which had a 79% graduation rate.

While male students in the Nyssa School District are graduating at the same rate as the rest of the state, female, Hispanic/Latino, and migrant students are among student groups that are graduating at lower rates than the rest of the state.

Nyssa school officials didn’t respond to written questions about the data. 

Adrian had a graduation rate of 93%, up from 88% the year before. 

Jordan Valley and Harper both had a 100% graduation rate for the past two years in a row. 

Annex, Arock, and Juntura were not represented in the state data. 

Ontario consistently trended upward, with a 64% graduation rate in 2013-14, this year hitting 86%. The rate last year was about 87%.

Nicole Albisu, the Ontario School District superintendent, said that the district is pleased with the results given the challenges faced by both the county and the school district. 

Albisu said that most school districts and schools across the state struggle with achievement gaps between underserved populations. 

“We are pleased that we have successfully shut the door on that,” Albisu said. 

One gap that persists that the district would like to close is between male and female students, as well as special education and homeless students, Albisu said. 

“These are very challenging, for obvious reasons,” she said. 


There is about a 10% gap between the male and female graduation rate at Ontario, with girls graduating at a higher rate. 

Homeless students at Ontario High School graduate at a lower rate than any other student group in the district. 

Alisha McBride, Vale School District superintendent, said that overall, the district is pleased with its 2018-19 graduation rates. 

“All Vale School District staff members strive to meet the needs of our students and high graduation rates are a reflection of that dedication and hard work,” McBride said. 

The state data showed that Vale had a graduation rate of 88%. 

For McBride, that means nearly 9 out of 10 students left the Vale School District prepared to either enter the workforce or continue their education. 

The dip in the graduation rate for Vale can be explained, McBride said, by the fluctuating size of the cohort, or group of students considered for the annual study.

For the 2018-19 school year, the data showed a total of 60 students for Vale, with three students considered dropouts by the state.  

McBride said that the more students there are in the group, the less impact one student dropping out will have on the overall graduation rate for a given year. 

The year-to-year fluctuations occur as classes of varying sizes move up into high school year after year, McBride said. 

“It is nothing we have control over,” McBride said. “Some years there are more students born during the year and they enter kindergarten at the same time, and some years there aren’t that many.” 

She said the district is also pleased to see that many of the student subgroups in Vale have graduation percentages that far exceed the state average and are even higher than the district average.

McBride said that if even one student drops out of school, that’s a concern. 

“We recognize that there are often circumstances such as mobility, homelessness, and poverty which cause a student to drop out of school.” 

“As a result, we are continually seeking ways to assist students and their families, remove barriers, and provide students with the opportunity to meet graduation requirements,” McBride added. 

News tip? Contact reporter Joe Siess: [email protected] or 541-473-3377. 

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