State releases school report cards

State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo  released the report cards for public elementary, middle, and high schools, last week marking the 10th year that Oregon has issued the ratings. The Oregon Legislature passed the school report card law in 1999 to help public schools communicate with parents and communities and to improve schools through greater parental involvement.

 

Each fall, Oregon releases three major reports on public schools: the Oregon school report cards; student achievement on state tests in reading, writing, mathematics, and science; and the federal Adequate Yearly Progress report required under No Child Left Behind.  Of the three reports, the school report cards offer the most complete look at how schools are performing because they include a more thorough review of school quality.

Oregon’s school report cards include information about student test performance, school improvement, attendance, dropout rates, class size, SAT scores, expulsions due to weapons, and teacher education and experience. Schools earn overall ratings of Exceptional, Strong, Satisfactory, Low, or Unacceptable.

“Oregon has been a national leader in the reporting of school performance,” Castillo said. “Our school report cards continue to provide a very comprehensive picture of what is happening in classrooms across the state, and they are important tools for many Oregonians – from school officials, legislators and parents to local real estate agents.  I am proud of Oregon’s commitment to transparency, and I believe it has led to better schools and a better education for our students.”
Oregon’s 2007-08 ratings are shown below (1130 schools were rated):
Exceptional: 129 schools (11.4%)  —  last year: 157 schools (14%)
Strong: 414 schools (36.6%)  —  last year: 457 schools (40.8%)
Satisfactory: 555 schools (49.1%)  —  last year: 472 schools (42.2%)
Low: 20 schools (1.8%)  —  last year: 24 schools (2.1%)
Unacceptable: 12 schools (1.1%)  —  last year: 9 schools (0.8%)

2007-08 Report Card Highlights:
389 elementary schools were rated as strong or exceptional (56.1% of all elementary schools)    
89 middle schools were rated as strong or exceptional (45.6% of all middle schools)    
65 high schools were rated as strong or exceptional (27% of all high schools)    
The state attendance rate for elementary/middle schools was 94.5%, and the attendance rate for high schools was 90.9.

The state tested 98.5% of all students in grades 3-8 and 10 on Oregon’s state assessments.     
There were 333 expulsions due to weapons reported during 2007-08, significantly down from 389 last year.

School report cards are available online at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/data/reportcard/reports.aspx     
All District 9 and Butte Falls schools were listed as Satisfactory in the current report. Two schools, Lake Creek Learning Center and Mountain View elementary dropped from Strong to Satisfactory. Prospect K-12 was listed as Strong.

Changes coming to School Report Cards

The 2007 legislature made changes to Oregon’s school report cards to increase the accountability of schools and to ensure that the right schools would be identified as needing improvement. An additional benefit is that these changes will bring the Oregon rating system into closer alignment with the federal rating system under No Child Left Behind, and this should reduce the confusion between the two systems.  For example, a school could receive a “Strong” or “Exceptional” rating on Oregon’s school report card and also be rated as “Not Meeting” on the federal report.

“Many school officials and parents have been puzzled by the differences between the Oregon and the federal ratings,” said Pat Burk, Chief Policy Officer at the Department of Education.  “We worked closely with the legislature to come up with modifications to the report card that would make sense.  The goal of the report card is to give an accurate view of a school’s performance and to target assistance.  Having two opposite ratings caused confusion for everyone.”

The three major changes are listed below, and they take effect in next year’s Oregon school report cards:
1. The rating system will focus less on identifying failure and more on continuous improvement of schools to meet the needs of every student enrolled.  Schools will be rated as Outstanding, Satisfactory, or In Need of Improvement.  
2. All schools that are rated “in need of improvement” will fall under a system of data-driven progressive interventions.  The Oregon Department of Education will provide technical assistance to schools as they develop and implement a school improvement plan.  The longer schools are rated “in need of improvement,” the more extensive and directive the interventions become.
3. Student achievement on Oregon’s state assessments will be reported as disaggregated data, including race/ethnicity, poverty, students with disabilities, limited English proficient, etc.  In addition, ratings will be more focused on academic growth for each student.

“Next year’s changes to the school report cards reflect the importance that Oregonians place on accountability,” Castillo said.  “As we continue to implement Oregon’s new high school diploma requirements, it is urgent that students at all grades make sustained improvement in reading, math, writing, and science in order to graduate.  Schools needing assistance must be identified quickly, so they can get help as soon as possible.  Our goal is to ensure that each and every student is making solid progress toward a diploma, and the new school report cards give us one more way to help identify schools that need additional tools, resources, and strategies.”

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