SHHS, elementary school test scores up

In state assessment testing results from 2009-10 reported by the Oregon Department of Education last week, results for Sweet Home schools were mixed, showing improvement at the elementary level in most areas, decreases at the junior high and gains in high school reading and math.

Statewide, schools made gains in most areas, with decreases in junior high science and high school writing.

Locally, the high school also experienced decreases in results for science and writing.

At Sweet Home High School, 66.7 percent of sophomores met or exceeded the state standard in reading, up from 58.1 percent in 2008-09. In math, 57 percent met or exceeded the standard, up from 54 percent.

In science, 61.8 percent of sophomores met or exceeded the standard, down from 65.3 percent, and in reading, 43.8 percent met or exceeded the standard, down from 46.7 percent.

In reading the sophomores trailed the state, which had 71.3 percent of all sophomores meet or exceed the standard. The state average trailed Sweet Home in math at 56.3 percent. The high school remained ahead of the state in science. The state had 60.2 percent of sophomores meet or exceed the standard in science. In writing statewide, 53.1 percent of sophomores met or exceeded the standard in writing, nearly 10 points ahead of Sweet Home.

The elementary grades in Sweet Home all had 73 to 87 percent meet or exceed the standards in reading and math. Grades three through five are tested. Only the third grade lost ground, with 83.4 percent meeting or exceeding the standard, down from 85.9 percent.

In science, fifth graders went from 86.3 percent to 76.3 percent, a little above the state total of 74.4 percent.

The seventh grade and eighth grades all lost ground in reading, math and science. The largest losses were in eighth grade science, which decreased from 75.6 percent meeting or exceeding the standard to 56.4 percent in 2009-10.

Eighth-grade math took a hit of nearly 13 points in math, decreasing from 83.2 percent to 70.7 percent, while seventh-grade math decreased only slightly, from 74.6 percent to 74.1 percent. In reading, the eighth grade decreased from 70.3 percent to 62.6 percent, and the seventh grade decreased from 74.5 percent to 66.1 percent.

In eighth-grade reading, the state had 69.6 percent meet or exceed the standard. In the seventh grade, the state had 78.5 percent meet or exceed the standard. In math, the state had 72 percent of eighth graders and 80 percent of seventh graders meeting or exceeding the standard. In eighth-grade science, 70.8 percent met or exceeded the standard statewide.

Across the board, the district trailed slightly the state numbers.

Overall in reading, the district decreased from 75 percent of students meeting or exceeding the standard to 74.4 percent. The state had 77.1 percent, up from 76.1 percent.

In math the state was at 74.1 percent, up from 72.2 percent. The district was at 73.3 percent, up from 71.7 percent.

In science, the state was at 68.5 percent, up from 68.3 percent. The district was at 64.5 percent, down from 75.8 percent.

“I would say overall, the scores are fairly mixed,” Supt. Larry Horton said. “Definitely in some areas, we’ll need to evaluate what to do to get scores up.”

Horton was pleased to see the progress at the high school in math and reading last year, he said. District officials need to look at more detail and try to figure out if last year’s junior high scores are some kind of anomaly.

Normally, far more junior high students meet or exceed the standards, he said.

The district will emphasize writing this year at the elementary level, Horton said.

Writing is tested only at the high school level.

The district will introduce curriculum called “Step Up to Writing” to help build a foundation in writing that officials hope will lead to gains in the future at the high school level.

“We’re going to try to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t,” Horton said. At the high school, schedules are changing.

All freshmen will be required to take a 30-minute study hall while upper classmen receive an extra half hour of lunch, said Principal Pat Stineff. After two or three weeks, all students receiving Ds and Fs will be required to take the study hall.

“These grades are unacceptable,” Stineff said. “We’re raising the bar.”

She was happy with the improvements in reading and math, she said. Students were able to attempt the test three times to pass those two subjects, and it definitely helped.

“I think we’ve given a whole lot more time, and we’ve kind of raised the awareness (about the test) too,” Stineff said. Sophomores are now taking three terms of math, two in Algebra I and one in Geometry.

“The more math they get, the better they’re going to do,” she said.

The test is becoming more important, Stineff said. If this year’s juniors don’t pass the reading and math tests, they won’t graduate.

This year’s sophomores also must pass the writing test.

Starting next year, testing will be done at the junior level, Stineff said, and that should improve the number of students passing.

“I’m excited this year for some of the changes we’re doing,” Stineff said, including the professional learning centers program, which is largely aimed at reducing the dropout rate.

Horton is fairly positive about the improvements this year, he said. “People are pulling together trying to do more with less.

Sometimes that creates a huge bond among the staff.”

That could be a bonus to the district as it deals with repeated shortfalls in revenue projections, he said.