Oregon City Schools Superintendent Lonny Rivera said he and the school board are planning to thoroughly examine the district’s state report card, which was released last month.
“The grades we received, we’re not happy with at all,” said Rivera, who started his new position as superintendent of the district last month. He said he is dissecting the results of the report card, which is a new state evaluation system for school districts this year. Instead of an overall grade for districts, the new system gives grades in nine categories.
The report card shows that the district, which has a student enrollment of 3,853, received two B’s, three C’s, a D, and three F’s.
“There are no more overall grades. We’re still trying to figure it out. It’s all confusing,” said Rivera. “This is all new information and new data. We were told by the state that the districts should be prepared because there’s probably going to be a dip in what we’re used to seeing as far as scores.”
The district received an F in “Gap Closing,” which measures how well all students are doing in reading, math, and graduation. According to the Department of Education, “It answers the question: Is every student succeeding, regardless of income, race, culture or disability?”
The district received two Fs in the “Value Added” category that measures the average progress in math and reading in grades 4-8. Gifted students, which measures the progress for students identified as gifted in reading, math, and/or superior cognitive ability, received a grade of C. Progress for students in the lowest 20 percent of reading and math achievement received a D. Progress for students with disabilities was given an F grade.
The district received a C in the four year graduation rate, and a B for five year graduation rate.
The district received a B in the Performance Index category, which measures test results of every student, not just those who score proficient or higher. The higher the achievement level, the more points are awarded in the district’s index. This rewards schools and districts for improving performance.
The district received a C for Indicators Met, which measures how many students have passed the state tests at a minimum level, called proficient or higher. Fifth graders did not pass at a minimum level in reading, math and science.
“What we’re doing now is we’re going through every part of that whole grade card, examining each piece of it to see exactly what it means. We’re trying to figure out what happened. They changed some of the assessments for our special needs students who take alternate assessments, so we’re trying to see how much of that made a difference,” said Rivera.
Low income level
“The one thing that is interesting is, the day the state report cards came out, the Ohio School Board Association came out with a report that basically correlated income levels in a school district with how well the school would perform. We looked at all the districts in northwest Ohio. The three lowest performers on the report card indicators happened to have the lowest income levels also. Those are Washington Local, Oregon and Toledo Public Schools districts. We’re in the bottom three as far as performance but also we’re in the bottom three as far as income. That was an interesting thing for us to look at, because if you look at Oregon, most people wouldn’t assume that we’re lower on the socio-economic scale. People don’t realize we have a large group of apartments and there is some poverty in different areas of our district. That’s what we’re going to have to try and put our focus on: How do we help students coming from those situations because those are the subgroups that are not doing well.”
P.J. Kapfhammer, school board president, said the report card grades are “unacceptable.”
The reconfiguration of grades five, six, seven and eight, starting this school year, is expected to improve scores in next year’s report cards, he said.
Kapfhammer said the reconfiguration, which moved fifth and sixth grade students into the Eisenhower Intermediate School, and seventh and eighth grade students into Fasssett Junior High, allows teachers more time to collaborate and plan together, and is expected to improve student test scores.
“I expect next year’s report card to show better grades as a result of the reconfiguration,” he said.
“The reconfiguration will help counteract some of our performance problems, particularly the indicators we missed at the fifth through eight grade levels, mainly in math and science. Those are the areas we really struggled with as a district,” said Rivera. “The reconfiguration now puts all of our fifth and sixth grades together and all the seventh and eighth grades together. We’re no longer trying to duplicate services at two different buildings to get results from both of them. When we did training and in-servicing, it was difficult to make sure we were doing the same things for both staffs at different buildings. That was one thing we understood we could do. We also added some additional services to help with some of our concerns, one being socio-economic issues. We’re adding counseling services for kids who need it, and we also have intervention times that are built in during our day. The reconfiguration has allowed us to do that.”