Malheur County graduation rates well above state average in 2022

The graduation rate for Malheur County’s class of 2022 is 89%, unchanged from the year before but well above the statewide average of 81%. 

According to the Oregon Department of Education’s report published Thursday, Jan. 26, over 350 students out of roughly 400 seniors earned a high school diploma in the region in 2022, while 30 dropped out and nine finished the term with either an adult high school diploma, an extended diploma, or a general equivalency degree. 

Meanwhile, the report noted four students enrolled in school to complete their graduation requirements and earn a diploma. 

According to the report, girls edged out boys in graduation rates, 89.13% to 88.79% in 2022. Girls saw a 3% drop from the previous year, while the boys are up from 86% from the year before. 

Overall, 17 boys and 14 boys did not complete the school year with a diploma, GED, or alternative certificate by the end of the school year, nor were they enrolled, according to the report. 

Meanwhile, Hispanic students, who make up nearly 65% of the population at some Malheur County schools,, showed gains in graduation rates in 2022. Across the county, nearly 200 Latino students in the county graduated at a rate of  88% in 2022, up from 86% the year before. 

Those students exceeded the comparable state average by almost 10%. Statewide, Hispanic students logged a graduation rate of 79%, up nearly a percentage point from the previous year. 

Meanwhile, 91% of White students in the county received high school diplomas, slightly down nearly a percentage point from the year before.

Mark Redmond, superintendent of the Malheur Education Service District, said over the last decade, the county has closed the achievement gap, the disparities in educational achievement between minority and disadvantaged students and their White counterparts, to around 1.5% over the last decade. 

For instance, according to state data, in 2013, about 64% of White students at Ontario High School earned a diploma compared to 56% of Hispanics.

“We don’t want a gap at all,” Redmond said, “but one-and-a-half percent is a small number.” Moreover, the report shows the Ontario district has slowly made gains in closing the gap. 

That’s notable, especially after students endured pandemic-induced disruptions to learning, Redmond said.  The effects of the pandemic, which struck in March 2020, were more severe for minority and underserved populations.

Redmond said that for those achievement gaps remain low, or in some cases the same, is encouraging. 

That said, Redmond and other local school officials remain concerned about student absences. Across the county, under 200 students have missed 20 or more days of 75 school days on average this year.

Redmond and other education officials in the region have proposed an ordinance allowing the county to cite the parent or guardian of a student who misses more than 10% of scheduled school days. So far, the Malheur County Court has not acted on the proposal. Redmond said he and other educators plan to pitch the proposal again next month to the county court. 

Redmond said research links attendance to high school graduation rates and other outcomes. The purpose of issuing the citation in many cases, Redmond said, will be to help families address causes for the chronic absenteeism. Often, he said, there are factors such as lack of childcare, transportation, or health problems which the county in some cases might be able to help a family address. 

“We’re attempting to utilize every resource we have as a community to help get these kids in school,” Redmond said. 


In 2022, according to the report, the Ontario School District, the county’s largest district, saw 91% of its seniors earn a diploma in 2022, slightly unchanged from the prior year. The school’s five-year average is hovering at 92%, up from 90% last year. 

While just under 15 students dropped out entirely, three were enrolled in classes to complete their required courses and graduate. 

Hispanic students at Ontario High School also, like the rest of the county, saw a significant jump in their graduation rate, posting a 93% graduation rate in 2022, a 5% increase. Meanwhile, 86% of their White classmates earned diplomas, down from 95% the year before. 

Ken Martinez, Ontario High School principal, said over the past five years, the school has hovered at, or around, a 90% graduation rate. The current five-year rate is 92%, according to the report.

According to Martinez, the school has consistently out-performed the state average rate.  He said that is cause for “tremendous celebration.”

What makes the celebration so much sweeter, Martinez said, is that it was only 10 years ago that the school posted its historically lowest graduation rate, 52%, in 2013. 

The school has come a long way in a short period of time. 

“We’re talking about a decade ago,” he said. “That’s not a long time.” 


In Nyssa, the county’s second-largest district, 80% of all students earned diplomas in 2022, down from 87% last year, according to the state report. Out of just over 100 students, over 80 received a diploma, seven earned an alternative certificate, GED, or adult diploma and 13 dropped out. 

The district’s Hispanic population had a rate of 76%, down from 87% the previous year, the report said. 

Darren Johnson, Nyssa School District superintendent, said he did not have a chance to review the data and declined to comment on the specifics of the report just yet. Johnson noted that he had been dealing with several other pressing issues within the district.


In Vale, the report noted, 96% of all students earned a diploma, down from 99% last year. In addition, according to the data, the school’s boys and girls each had a graduation rate of 95%. The district’s Hispanic students saw a 92% graduation rate, down from 95% the year before.  


The report showed that 95% of students in Adrian earned a diploma, down 5% from the prior year.

Outlying districts 

Meanwhile, the report stated that all five of Jordan Valley’s seniors graduated in 2022, while 96% of Harper Charter’s seniors earned a diploma. At Four Rivers Charter School, 93% of its students graduated, up from 91% in 2021. 

Requirements to earn a diploma 

To graduate high school in Oregon, a student must complete 24 credits. Those courses include four years of English and three years of math. Oregon’s high school diploma credit requirements are among the most demanding in the country, according to a report published by the state Education Department.

In 2020, the state temporarily paused graduation requirements due to the pandemic. This prompted state legislators in 2021 to pass Senate Bill 774, which, among other things, tasked the state agency to review existing requirements for earning a diploma or alternative certificate. By the time a student is ready to graduate, they must be able to comprehend various texts, write clearly and accurately, and use math skills in different settings. 

The Education Department released a report in September after reviewing the state’s graduation requirements. In that report, the agency recommended ending the requirement for students to show proficiency in reading, writing and other skills on top of passing courses in those subjects.

Also, the department added that the state ends the requirement that students pass Algebra I and that Oregon offers one diploma, not three. Also, the department recommended students pass a “future planning” course to help them learn the basics of financial planning, resume building and interviewing. 

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE – The Malheur Enterprise delivers quality local journalism – fair and accurate. You can read it any hour, any day with a digital subscription. Read it on your phone, your Tablet, your home computer. Click subscribe – $7.50 a month.