Brookings-Harbor High School's graduation rates, while showing improvement, still lag behind state averages.

The district showed improvements across the board from the previous year, graduating 61.33 percent of students in four years in 2013, an improvement from the 57.42 percent of students who graduated in 2012.

However, the 61.33 percent graduation rate does not include the 10 students who are enrolled in the Beyond BHHS program.

If those students are included, the school's graduation rate is 68 percent according to Superintendent Brian Hodge. Beyond BHHS students must complete all graduation requirements for the high school before they begin taking college class work through Southwest Oregon Community College but are not counted as graduated, according to state statistics.

The district also dramatically improved graduating more Hispanic and economically-disadvantaged students. Only 41.67 percent of Hispanic students graduated BHHS in four years in 2012; in 2013 this number had improved to 55.56 percent of students.

Hodge said the improvement is because the district is starting to see the benefits of professional learning communities and increasing professional development.

"We are taking an honest look at the data and we are making honest assessments and decisions based on it," Hodge said.

Oregon has the fourth worst graduation rate in the nation, and the Brookings-Harbor graduation and completion rate, which includes those who took a GED or received a modified diploma, trails state averages.

While state numbers did improve slightly this year, in most areas the state stayed the same or did not show significant improvement. Those with a high school diploma make significantly more than those without according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Hodge said he planned on looking through records of past students to find out why they dropped out of high school.

"We need to look at the circumstances," Hodge said. "We lose track of some of these kids. We need to go back and see where we lost them."

The district recently hired a part-time teacher to tutor and help freshmen students who are flunking classes. The thought is that, by helping students before they fall too far behind, they will stay on track to graduation.

Hodge said professional learning communities, which brings teachers together to discuss curriculum and students, has helped improve communications.

The district has also invested more in professional development, sending teachers to conferences and bringing instructors to Brookings to train teachers in new techniques.

But as the state looks to improve its graduation rate, Brookings is aiming to catch up state averages.

"We have room to grow and we anticipate we will," Hodge said. "The improvement is something to feel good about, but then we need to get back to work."