Home Page
Student-Centered Teaching and Learning

Oregon needs better education outcomes. It’s a design challenge.

print this page

Indicators Say Oregon Needs Improvement

We Could Do Better at Every Level

For all the students who move along just fine in Oregon’s public education system, too many struggle and fail to learn, and too many quit before reaching a diploma, degree, or certificate. Key indicators of how Oregon students are doing suggest there is a lot of room for improvement in helping them to succeed, starting with the youngest before they reach kindergarten. Oregon students also rank significantly below states and nations with the strongest academic achievement.

Ready for School. Forty percent of the children who show up for kindergarten are unprepared to succeed at learning.

Fourth grade reading and math. In the 2011-12 school year, just 74 percent of all students met grade level reading standards; that share dropped to 64 percent for economically disadvantaged students. Only 66 percent met math standards, dropping to 55 percent for economically disadvantaged students.

Fourth Grade and Eighth Grade NAEP Scores. On the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which tests a statistically significant sample of students for academic skills across the states, Oregon students fare poorly. In reading, only 23 percent of 4th grade students and only 30 percent of 8th grade students are rated proficient. In math, only 30 percent of 4th grade students and only 25 percent of 8th grade students are rated proficient.

High School Completion. Only 74 percent of entering ninth graders stay and earn a high school diploma in four years. Most of those who don’t have dropped out, often in the first two years. The graduation rate is significantly lower for low-income students and students of color.

Absenteeism. Oregon has the highest incidence of chronic absenteeism in the nation. One in five students (roughly 100,000) were absent 3 1/2 weeks in the 2015-16 school year. There is a high correlation between students who are chronically absent and those who drop out.

Insufficient Movement to Postsecondary Enrollment. Only about 60 percent of Oregon students who graduate from high school enroll in a postsecondary program the following year.

Insufficient Basic Skills Among Entering Community College Freshmen. Approximately 52 percent of first year students show up at Oregon’s community colleges lacking sufficient basic skills in math, reading, or writing (or all three) to do college level work. Freshmen in four-year public universities are better prepared, but 12 percent of these students arrive lacking requisite basic skills.

Postsecondary Persistence to Graduation. Oregon’s public universities as a whole graduate only 60 percent of entering freshmen within six years, with rates below 42 percent for the regional universities. Our 17 community colleges graduate only 24 percent of students in two-year programs within seven years of enrollment.

A Stubborn Achievement Gap. Throughout the indicators above there is a persistent achievement gap between Oregon’s more affluent white students and students of color, immigrants, migrants, and low-income rural students. The breakdown of Oregon education attainment in the figure below, using data from the 2012 American Community Survey, shows the extent of such disparities.

Clearly,our education system is not working for enough of our students. See some of the reasons why.

From kindergarten readiness to fourth grade math to high school graduation and college readiness, there is a lot of room for improvement.



are not ready for kindergarten


don’t finish high school on time


don’t go on to college


finish community college in 7 years