Schools behind curve in report cards

Sean C. Morgan

In the new state testing, Sweet Home didn’t fare as well as the rest of the state in most areas.

According to the annual school report cards released by the

Oregon Department of Education, a smaller percentage of Sweet Home students met or exceeded the standard compared to students statewide on the new Smarter Balanced Assessment in the 2014-15 school year, the first year of the new assessment, which assesses how students are doing in relation to Common Core.

“We were below the state averages in most areas on the new (test),” said Supt. Keith Winslow.

The report cards highlight an attendance problem among Sweet Home’s economically disadvantaged students, Winslow said, but the report also indicates that Sweet Home is about the same as the state and ahead of schools the state deems similar to Sweet Home in the number of freshmen on track to graduate.

The report cards do not include a rating of the schools this year because the method of assessing students has changed. Districts have switched from the OAKS test to the Smarter Balanced test.

In reading, 63.3 percent of high school juniors met or exceeded the standard, compared to 68.5 percent statewide and 72 percent in similar districts.

In grades six to eight, 44.8 percent of students met or exceeded the standard, while around the state 56.4 percent did. In similar districts, 48.3 met or exceeded the standard.

In grades three through five, 39.7 percent of students met or exceeded the standard, while statewide 51.1 percent and among similar schools 42.7 percent met or exceeded the standard.

In math, just 19 percent of juniors met or exceeded the standard, while statewide 31.6 percent and in similar districts 32.8 percent met or exceeded the standard.

In grades six through eight, 34.8 met or exceeded the standard. Statewide, 42.5 percent met or exceeded the standard. In like districts, 33 percent met or exceeded the standard.

In grades three through five, 28.9 percent met or exceeded the standard. Statewide, 44.8 percent met or exceeded the standard, and in similar districts, 36.5 percent met or exceeded the standard.

Oak Heights and Holley exceeded the percentage, meeting or exceeding for similar schools in language arts.

Sweet Home Charter School exceeded the state percentage in math with 50.4 percent of students meeting or exceeding, compared to 43.5 percent statewide. The same percentage also met or exceeded the standard in language arts. The school had the highest percentage of students meeting or exceeding the standard among Sweet Home elementary schools, but it lagged 27.1 points behind similar schools in language arts and 21.3 points behind in math.

Winslow called it frustrating.

“When we took the OAKS tests, we were at the average all along,” he said. “It’s the same kids, the same teaching, the same everything. We realize we have some work to do preparing for the state test.”

“Our plan is to focus academically on math and writing this year,” said Sweet Home High School Principal Ralph Brown. “We will strive to find ways to support our students in these two core areas throughout our school. We believe that success in math and writing goes beyond just the math or English classrooms.

“Our teachers will continue to work together to prepare our students to become more college and career ready. If we have this college and career ready goal for all of our students, I believe our test scores will improve as well.”

Winslow said the district also is focused on growth and improvement.

“Our main desire in the district is to work toward every student making adequate growth in their learning,” he said. “The state breaks down student growth into three levels low, typical, or high growth. I am happy to share that in all subjects and grade levels assessed, we fell within the typical median growth percentile.

“This information from the new Smarter Balanced Assessment will guide our professional development, inform our data teams and decision-making and help set goals for improvement at each school.”

The report card identified attendance problems across the state.

In Sweet Home, some 50 percent of economically disadvantaged high school students, about half of students, were chronically absent, missing more than 10 percent of the school year, Winslow said. That is substantially above the state average and the average among similar schools.

Districtwide 27 percent percent of students were chronically absent. Statewide, 17.4 percent of students are chronically absent.

Despite the high chronic absenteeism, “when these kids are here, they’re learning,” Winslow said. Among economically disadvantaged students, 72.4 percent of freshmen were on track to graduate. That’s better than the state average of 70.8 percent. Among similar schools, 71.2 percent were on track to graduate.

Overall, 79.1 percent of Sweet Home freshmen were on track to graduate, while the state had 79.9 percent on track to graduate and similar schools had 81.1 percent.

The overall high school completion rate was 81.3 percent, compared to 82.1 percent statewide and 84.7 percent among similar schools. The dropout rate was 5.3 percent in Sweet Home, 4 percent statewide and 2.5 percent among like schools.

“We’re working on that,” Winslow said. The district is working with the truancy officer and Sweet Home Municipal Court to enforce attendance requirements.

Attendance “is not a high school thing,” Winslow said. “It’s a lower grade thing.”

It comes down to relationships and connections among teachers, schools and students, he said. The schools need to be welcoming places for students.

Total
0
Share