Area districts make the grade on report cards

<p>An Oregon State University doctoral student helps students on a chemistry lab at Hermiston High School in this file photo. Hermiston and other area school districts generally fared well on their state report cards, released this week.</p>

Area school districts generally fared well on the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills exams compared with their counterparts at other schools throughout the state, with most schools boasting above-average ratings on their state report cards, which were released Thursday by the Oregon Department of Education.

The Hermiston School District officials reported all but two of its schools showed an above-average rating compared with schools of similar demographics across the state in the 2012-13 school year.

“We continue to focus our efforts on increasing the achievement for all students by implementing best teaching practice,” Superintendent Fred Maiocco wrote on the district’s report card. “Each school is focused on implementing the new Common Core State Standards ... Significant investments to science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics also drive our efforts.”

Hermiston High School received an above-average rating with 86.4 percent of students meeting or exceeding the state standards in reading, 73.3 percent in mathematics, 61.6 percent in science and 65.7 percent in writing, a subject on which only 11th graders are tested.

Similar high schools across the state reported 83 percent of students meeting or exceeding in reading, 66.1 in math, 54.4 in science and 55.4 in writing.

West Park and Desert View elementary schools also earned above-average ratings. Desert View led the rest of the elementary schools in the percentage of students meeting or exceeding the state standards with 72.3 in reading, 71 percent in math and 74.1 in science. West Park reported 58.1 percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards in reading, 48.5 percent in math and 53.2 percent in science.

Sandstone Middle School also received an above-average rating with 71.2 percent of students meeting or exceeding the state standards in reading, 64.5 percent in math and 80.9 percent in science.

The two schools that reported below average results were Highland Hills Elementary School and the Innovative learning Center — the district’s alternative learning program for high school students who struggle with meeting the demands of a regular high school schedule.

Highland Hills had 62.7 percent of its students meet or exceed state standards in reading, 52.9 percent in math and 51.4 percent in science. Similar schools reported 70.8 percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards in reading, 60.7 percent in math and 68.7 percent in science. The Hermiston School District also reported a lower dropout rate at 2.6 percent. The state average was 3.4 percent last year, and similar schools reported an average drop-out rate of 3.3 percent.

The Hermiston School District wasn’t the only one boasting high honors on their report card, however.

Stanfield Elementary School and Stanfield Secondary School both had above-average ratings. The elementary school reported higher numbers than like-schools in all academic areas except science. The secondary school reported higher numbers than similar schools in all academic areas.

The Echo School District also received an above-average rating, with higher numbers than like-schools in all academic areas except reading and mathematics.

The Umatilla School District reported below average ratings at two of its three schools within the district, and the Umatilla High School receiving an average rating overall.

Superintendent Heidi Sipe said, however, the two lower ratings are because the district has switched its curriculum to follow the new Common Core State Standards, with little to no focus on the current state-wide testing standards used in OAKS.

“I think it’s easiest to think of the comparison between the two as a boaters driving exam and an auto driving exam,” she said. “Some skills will transfer between the two, and some will be completely different. The same is true with Common Core standards and the traditional Oregon standards.”

She said vocabulary is a good example of one of the differences used in the two methods. She said the vocabulary used in OAKS tests is not necessarily reflected in the Common Core state standards.

“Squares aren’t always called squares anymore,” she said. “They may be called a parallelogram.”

Sipe said, next year, when all districts will be operating under the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium for Common Core standards, the Umatilla scores will be comparable with those other schools. To view the complete reports for area schools, visit http://www.ode.state.or.us.

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