Study: Half of Lebanon HS graduates in 4 years. District: We disagree

LEBANON, Ore. - A new study indicates less than half of Lebanon students graduate high school in four years.

The study from the state education department has community members worried, but school officials say the numbers don't represent their actual graduation numbers.

The study for 2012 shows that under 45 percent of Lebanon students graduated in 4 years, and that 59 percent had a degree after 5 years.

Lebanon's superintendent Robert Hess said the state's formula is flawed, adding that he calculated an 80 percent graduation rate.

"Over one half of those graduates decided to enroll in our fifth year, Beyond LHS Program at Linn-Benton Community College," said Hess. "Those students that enroll in that program the state formula does not count them in that four-year cohort rate."

The "Beyond LHS Program" is designed to give students the opportunity to take free college classes at Linn-Benton Community College.

If participating students were designated high school graduates, Hess said the funding would disappear and many participants would be unable to afford further education.

Lebanon High School's principal Brad Shreve said their school decided to put students before statistics.

"A lot of other communities in Oregon they say you only get one year because you're not going to count against our five year cohort rate. But we've said this opportunity for kids who really need it is more important," said Shreve.

Shreve added that other high schools are creating similar college opportunities for their students.

Lebanon officials believe the state should change its assessment formula to reflect this trend.

Officials held a meeting Thursday at the district board room to discuss the issue.