First Advisor

Robert C. Liebman

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Sociology and University Honors




High school dropouts -- Oregon -- Portland -- Prevention, High school students -- Oregon -- Portland -- Economic conditions, Academic achievement, High school graduates -- Statistics, Benson Polytechnic School, Portland Public Schools (Or.)




This comparative case study aims to understand the contrasting graduation rates between Benson Polytechnic High School and Roosevelt High School in Portland, Oregon. I chose Roosevelt and Benson due to their similar reported demographics. Roosevelt reports 76% of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch and 69.6% classified as non-white. Benson reports 69% of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch and 71.4% classified as non-white. Even with their similar demographic makeup, Benson boasts an 87% graduation rate in the 2013-2014 school year and Roosevelt reports a 53% graduation rate in the 2013-2014 school year. Using theories put forth by sociologists I can begin to create a broad understanding of student success as measured by graduation rate. I address the question of what model benefits students in poverty and how that model can be applied on the federal scale. Using data from the Oregon Department of Education, Portland Public Schools, and in-person interviews I can begin to understand how theories explained differences in graduation rates.


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