Benton-Franklin Trends
Benton-Franklin Trends
Eastern Washington University
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With this website, we hope to serve the informational needs of Benton and Franklin Counties. The project's steering committee, composed of leaders from various segments of the two counties, believe that a comprehensive set of facts about our community will help decision-making in both private and public settings.

The indicators have been chosen through a process engaging community leaders with subject experts. They represent our residents' current preferences for what is important to measure, subject to available data sources.


The Trends of Benton and Franklin Counties, in south central Washington; are presented by a coalition of interested parties. The steering committee included the following organizations: Benton Franklin Health District, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Port of Benton, the Three Rivers Community Foundation, and the Tri-City Herald. The information contained among these many indicators offers residents and visitors alike a comprehensive view of our community.

Our specific goals are to:

  • Inform, based on the best-available data
  • Measure progress
  • Focus community attention on key issues
  • Ultimately, inspire broadly shared action

Our process has been deliberative and inclusive. To arrive at the current set of indicators, we engaged focus groups around eight of the ten categories on the site. This involved nearly 150 community leaders and subject experts. Their votes determined the choices of indicators you see in each category.

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Benton and Franklin Counties lie in south central Washington. Currently, nearly 275,000 people call the two counties home. The third largest metro area in the state, it has also recently been the fastest-growing one. Major economic activities are agriculture, agricultural manufacturing, research at a national energy laboratory, remediation of nuclear waste, and tourism. The population of the two counties has become increasingly diverse over time. The counties boast Columbia Basin College and Washington State University Tri-Cities. It is also the home of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). PNNL performs over $1B per year in research volume. Staff files one invention disclosure per day, and one patent is granted to PNNL per week.

Separated by the Columbia River, the two counties sport different collective personalities but are united around the common goal of making the quality of life here even better.

Benton Franklin Map


On-Time High School Graduation Rates: High school completion is a fundamental educational milestone that holds important implications for both students and public education districts in Benton and Franklin Counties. For students, obtaining a high school diploma offers the expectation of more stable employment prospects, higher lifetime earnings, and the opportunity to continue one's education at the postsecondary level.

For school districts and other educational agencies throughout the three counties, the share of their high school students that earn a diploma (or those who fail to do so) is now a major component of their scorecard. For communities, the educational achievement of its residents affects what kind of employers operate in the area and thus the overall economic vitality. If the local workforce does not have adequate skills, many employers will find a different community to operate in.

The new method follows an adjusted cohort of students entering 9th grade and calculates how many of them graduate after four years of high school. The equation is quite simple: graduation rate = (students graduating within four years with a high school diploma) divided by (first-time entering 9th graders four years earlier and the net number of transfers). Each student is assigned an identification number to follow them if they transfer to a different school in-state, as transfers are the only component that alters a given cohort.

The first two school years in this series (2010-2011 and 2011-2012), the combined counties of Benton & Franklin were further below the state benchmark than in the final two school years in the series. Beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, the combined counties on-time high school graduation rate had nearly caught up with the state trailing the state by only 0.4 percentage points and narrowing the gap to 0.2 percentage points by the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
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