The recent report from the Oregon department of Education shows that, overall, Oregon high schools graduated about 600 more students than last year — 80 percent of students graduated in four years, a historic high for the state.

Locally, graduation rates jumped 9 percent for Dallas School District, with 84.3 percent of students earning a high school diploma in four years.

On one hand, way to go to the students and staff who worked hard to establish a mindset of graduation. Dallas interim superintendent Andy Bellando said he has established a culture of graduates at every level, K-12: Every teacher is teaching a high school graduate.

On another hand, Bellando is right when he says the non-graduates have names and faces. They have families and futures.

Students involved in career and technical education programs have a higher rate of graduation at 95 percent. Is there something we’re missing for students? Would more students graduate if they felt invested in their education in the same way these students must feel? What programs would that look like?

And how would schools pay for those programs — which includes classrooms, teachers, desks and supplies?

What’s standing in their way to a high school diploma? When we can answer that question, we will likely help them achieve the degree.

The Legislature passed the Student Success Act, which will raise roughly $2 billion from a business tax, but the way that money can be spent is very narrowly defined.

Meanwhile, the state is still 20 percent off from its 40-40-20 goal, which states that every Oregonian should have a high school diploma or equivalent (20 percent); 40 percent should have a bachelor’s degree or higher; and 40 percent should have an associate degree or equivalent.

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