Whereas last year’s graduation rates at Baker High School soared above the state average, this year’s statistics show BHS numbers down slightly while the state average hit an all-time rate of 80%.

But Greg Mitchell, BHS principal, says his numbers and those in the state report don’t add up.

“I’m trying to figure out the numbers right now,” Mitchell said Tuesday afternoon as he reviewed spreadsheets from last year and this year. “It doesn’t add up.”

According to the Oregon Department of Education’s report issued last week, 88 of the 112 seniors received diplomas last year. The report shows 80 who received regular diplomas and eight who received modified diplomas, Mitchell said.

Using those figures, the four-year graduation rate for 2018-19 at Baker High School is 78.57%, leaving 19 noncompleters.

Mitchell says he believes the completion rate is more like 96 students, which would put this year’s BHS graduation rate at around 85.7%, an improvement over last year’s rate of about 84%.

“That’s approximately where we should be living,” Mitchell said. “I don’t have 19 that should be missing.”

Mitchell planned to meet with his guidance department staff to comb over the statistics more closely this week. A district office employee who is out on medical leave might have more insight into the matter when she returns to work as well, Mitchell said.

A breakdown of the numbers as provided by ODE shows a five-year BHS completion rate of 86.49% for a 127-student group.

Eagle Cap Innovative High School hit a graduation rate of 87.5% for the eight students enrolled in 2018-19, said Betty Palmer, assistant superintendent. The five-year rate, which included 21 students was at 85.71%.

The rate at Baker Web Academy, which serves students throughout the state using a hybrid system that combines online classes with face-to-face teacher contact, showed a 62.5% graduation rate for its 157 students.

Baker Early College, which posted graduation rates of 95.6% last year dropped to 84% for a class size of 125 students in 2018-19, according to the state report and a five-year completer rate of 95.58% for a student group of 116.

Fewer students facing combined disadvantages, such as students with disabilities, low socioeconomic status or those who are homeless, graduate with their four-year cohorts, with rates of 71.67% at BHS; 66.67% at Eagle Cap; 58.65% at Baker Web Academy; and 81.82% at Baker Early College.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs continue to boost graduation rates throughout the state, including those of Baker students.

CTE participants at BHS who studied two or three courses graduated at a rate of 87.36% in 2018-19. Those who are considered CTE concentrators because they have enrolled in more than three courses, graduated at a rate of 95.92%.

Statewide, the graduation rate of those considered CTE participants showed an average graduation rate of 88.9% and CTE concentrators graduated at a rate of 93.5%, according to the state report.

Those statistics are a testimonial to the efforts put forth by the District and the 5J Board to promote career and technical training for Baker School District students, Palmer said.

And that includes the offering of CTE programs for Baker Middle School students, which at this time requires students to be bused to BHS for classes at Baker Technical Institute.

Palmer said the hands-on, real-life application provided in classes such as welding, construction or robotics hold the focus of students who might otherwise lose interest in school.

“CTE classes give kids a why,” Palmer said. “Kids who come and don’t feel like they can compete academically might realize they have a talent and an ability. It gives them a reason to stick it out.”

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