Tillamook School District 9 works diligently to serve its Latino students, which make up a quarter of the student population. However, a persistent achievement gap and poor graduation rates for Latino students spurred school leaders to work even harder to find a solution.
District officials knew that connecting with parents of junior and high school students was the key to helping students stay in track to graduate. Many parents were not involved in their children’s schooling so the district introduced Juntos, a program of Oregon State University’s Open Campus, which offers workshops with students and parents on high school success and college preparation.
The workshop sessions bring parents to the high school, possibly for the first time. Faculty, staff, administrators, and school board members attend sessions, meeting the families and answering questions.
After the initial six weeks, Juntos continues with student clubs, college visits, and GED preparation classes in Spanish at the local community college.
“Juntos is empowering our Latino community to be more involved in seeing their children succeed and has broken down some of the barriers to closing the achievement gap,” says school board member Kris Lachenmeier. “It has given our board an insight into cultural differences that may be a factor in success.”
Graduation rates for Latino students have risen since the program started in 2013, with a 100 percent graduation rate for Juntos participants. More than 85 percent of the Juntos students have gone on to college, many with scholarships from the district or their college of choice. Also, 20 Juntos parents enrolled in Spanish GED preparation classes at the community college, and that number may rise in the future.