All district schools except LOHS keep their exceptional ratings
Last year, the Lake Oswego School District community celebrated gleefully when all of its 13 schools were deemed exceptional by the state for the first time.
Twelve schools kept the coveted rating this year, according to the 2005-06 State School Report Card, while Lake Oswego High School slipped a notch to 'strong.'
The district released the Oregon Department of Education ratings Tuesday.
'It's nothing to get down about,' said Superintendent Bill Korach. 'We're are focusing on the great efforts of our teachers, parents and kids. We're very proud.'
The Oregon Legislature passed the school report cards law in 1999 to help public schools measure student test performance, school improvement, attendance, dropout rates, class size, SAT scores and other factors.
'Exceptional' is the highest rating a school can earn on a five-level scale. This year, 13.7 percent of the 1,075 schools in Oregon rated were ranked exceptional; while 40.5 percent were ranked strong.
LOHS fell short in the Academic Achievement/Student Performance Rating category, which shows the percentage of students who met or exceeded state standards on Oregon Statewide Assessments during the past two years.
In reading, LOHS received a 74 percent rating, down by three percentage points from last year's score. The school also fell one point in both math and writing.
The difference was enough to tip the balance and give the school a strong, rather than exceptional, rating.
'In simple terms, it's basically the difference between (a handful) of kids who didn't meet the state standard,' said Donna Watson, the district's director of curriculum, assessment and technology.
The report card also noted that LOHS received an exceptional rating in the Attendance/Dropout Student Behavior category, while seven other district schools were labeled strong.
The Academic Achievement category, however, played a larger role in the school's overall rating.
'If LOHS barely misses an exceptional rating, it's certainly not the end of the world as we know it,' Korach said. 'Strong is still a pretty good rating.'
Waluga Junior High School and River Grove Elementary School, which were deemed strong two years ago, held their exceptional ratings for another year.
The new report card marks the second exceptional ranking for River Grove, the district's only federal Title 1 school that serves a larger percentage of children from low-income families.
The school has implemented a number of changes that Principal Nancy Verstegen believes contributed to River Grove's success. The Lake Oswego Rotary Club also financially supports the school community.
'We're so proud of our students and staff for working so hard because it has been a concerted effort on everybody's part,' Verstegen said. 'We also have a tremendous amount of parent support.'
According to the report card, River Grove and Palisades elementaries are the only local schools that have improved this year. The others 'stayed the same,' according to the card.
In keeping with tradition, each exceptional school will be awarded a banner in honor of its achievement. At several district schools, banners hang side by side in a prominent place where they can be appreciated.
'We'll always strive to do the best we possibly can because that's our way,' Korach said. 'These ratings are really exceptional. When you compare them to any other school district, you're going to see our schools are really top-notch.'