Student Characteristics in Northwest Oregon

by Erik Knoder

August 1, 2019

Public school enrollment in Northwest Oregon increased by only 194 student in the 2018/2019 school year from the 2009/2010 school year, growing just 0.6 percent over nine years. But the composition of students changed as the region added multiracial and Hispanic students, and younger grades grew and high school enrollment shrank.

Today’s school students are tomorrow’s workforce so a look at student characteristics provides a look ahead at our region’s future workforce. It will also shed a little light on what working teachers are facing today. The data are from the Oregon Department of Education for districts in Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln, and Tillamook counties. Students from North Albany schools in Benton County were not included because their district is primarily in Linn County.
Although 72 percent of public school students were white in the 2018/2019 school year their numbers and share of the total fell from 2009/2010. The share of American Indian/Alaska Native students also fell substantially, by 38 percent, or about 300 fewer students. In contrast, the number of Hispanic students grew by 53 percent over the period and the number of multiracial students grew by 149 percent. These two groups also had large absolute changes in number.

Northwest Oregon public schools also saw a shift in the ages of students during the past nine years. Enrollment in grades nine through 12 lost 526 students while grades four through six gained the same number. Overall, grades seven and up all lost enrollment and grades kindergarten through grade six all gained enrollment.
The increasing youthfulness of Northwest Oregon’s public schools is in contrast to the graying of the region, and workforce, as a whole. From 2010 through 2018, the median age in each of the five counties in Northwest Oregon increased. (By more than two years in Lincoln County!) It may be that the younger families that are in the region were having more children, especially around 10 years ago. The region is aging, but there appears to have been a small regional baby boom in the recent past.

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