Oregon ranks near the bottom of the national heap for on-time high school graduation. Only 72 percent of Oregon students, and 70 percent of Portland Public Schools students, graduated on time in 2014.

More than half of employers say they have trouble finding qualified candidates for job openings.

Young people in Oregon are less educated than their parents’ generation, a trend that will worsen unless college completion rates improve.


Notable research

“Studies show that aligning high school standards to college and workplace expectations is a critical step toward giving students a solid foundation in the academic, social and workplace skills needed for success in postsecondary education or a career.”

— from the National Conference of State Legislatures, dropout prevention

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Career education replaces the old method of vocational education, which featured low-level courses and single electives. High-quality career and technical education involves “academically rigorous, integrated and sequenced programs of study that align with and lead to postsecondary education. These programs provide students with opportunities to acquire the competencies required in today’s workplace – such as critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, innovation, teamwork and communication – and to learn about different careers by experiencing work and workplaces.”

— from the College & Career Readiness & Success Center at the nonpartisan American Institutes for Research (2013)

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Oldies but goodies

“While most dropouts blame themselves for failing to graduate, there are things that they say schools can do to help them finish: Four out of five students (81%) said that there should be more opportunities for real world learning and some in the focus groups called for more experiential learning. They said students need to see the connection between school and getting a good job.”

— from “The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts,” Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2006) 

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“Academic preparation is necessary but not sufficient, however, in helping low-income students enroll in and graduate from college. Expectations about college attendance are important with one in particular standing out: a student’s expectation that a college degree will be essential to pursue his or her desired career. Students who make this connection are six times more likely to earn their degree than those who did not.”

— from “Reclaiming the American Dream,” The Bridgespan Group (2006)