Roseburg High programs show success in keeping freshmen on track to graduate

Photo of the main offices at Roseburg High School, October 25, 2017. (SBG)

ROSEBURG, Ore. – Roseburg High School has achieved a 5 percentage point jump in the number of freshmen on track to graduate thanks to the many programs at the school intended to support ninth-graders, the district reported this week.

Oregon Department of Education report card data released this week highlight various markers of student success statewide. Among the key markers of academic progress is the rate of students earning one-quarter of graduation credits in their ninth-grade year. RHS showed 85 percent of freshmen on track to graduate last year, up 5 percentage points from the previous year and on par with the state average.

“We have focused heavily on improving freshmen success rates over the past several years, implementing a variety of programs to support new students,” said RHS Principal Jill Weber. “We are thrilled to have achieved that 5 percentage point increase in such a short time. In education, especially at an institution this large, to see growth like that is amazing.”

Just four years ago, 73 percent of freshmen were on track, Weber noted.

Freshmen being on track to graduate is a significant indicator of future success throughout their high school experience. National data show that over 90 percent of students who are on track their freshman year will graduate on time. Only 40 percent of freshmen who are not on track will graduate.

Recent initiatives focused on helping students succeed in their first year of high school include a new summer school program that began this year aimed at helping freshmen get back on track prior to entering their sophomore year. A graduation coach was also brought on last year and works to support primarily freshmen and sophomores.

Staff members also created a Freshmen Success Team this year intended to track data such as GPAs for freshmen classes as a whole to ensure aspects like curriculum and courses are successful.

Other efforts that the school has implemented over the years include Smaller Learning Communities (SLC), in which every freshman is assigned to a team of teachers that meets with the student monthly and focuses on areas such as attendance and grades.

Additionally, an Early Warning System is used to home in on freshmen who are struggling with attendance, grades or behavior and to provide these students with the support they need to improve.

“We listen to freshmen and what they’re telling us they need to be successful, and then we use positive reinforcement as they work through their struggles,” said Kristin Brooks, a science teacher, Freshman Success Team member, Link Crew coordinator and SLC facilitator.

Link Crew helps middle school students with the sometimes difficult transition to high school. The crew comprises upperclassmen selected for their upbeat attitudes and kind behavior who help welcome incoming freshmen on the first day of school and then continue to meet with them throughout the year.

Weber said she hopes to continue to improve on the percentage of freshmen on track, and believes it’s possible to hit 90 percent in the next couple of years. Ultimately, those rates for on-track freshmen will begin to translate into higher graduation rates.

“When students feel and see that they can succeed early on in high school, we have a much better chance of hanging on to them and helping them to graduate,” she said.

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