Crew tells school district to set higher targets


Oregon's chief education officer asks LO and other districts to aim for improved core subject performance, graduation rates

The Lake Oswego School District is one of the highest-performing districts in Oregon, but the Oregon Education Investment Board is encouraging it to strive to do even better.

Under Senate Bill 1581, passed earlier this year, the newly created Oregon Education Investment Board and every K-12 school district entered into “achievement compacts,” two-way partnership agreements challenging districts to set targets for student achievement consistent with Oregon’s goal that by the year 2025, 100 percent of Oregonians will earn a high school diploma.

In reviewing the inaugural achievement compacts, submitted by Oregon school districts in June, Oregon Chief Education Officer Rudy Crew focused on whether each district had aimed for improved rates of high school completion and at least one percentage point of improvement in third grade reading and math performance.

The LOSD achievement compact set targets for 87 percent of third-graders demonstrating reading proficiency and 89 percent demonstrating math proficiency — exactly the same as last year — and 91 percent of ninth-graders graduating from high school in four years.

“With all of the change that our district is undergoing this year ... we thought it best, because our student performance is so high, for us to just target a continuation of the higher performance,” said LOSD superintendent Bill Korach.

“Lake Oswego was one of those districts that’s already a high-performing district, but not yet at the 100 percent level for (high school completion) and we still have some Lake Oswego students who are not yet at the level of proficiency we hope to get to in third grade for reading and math,” said Margie Lowe, Crew’s budget and data analyst. “We’re hoping that their targets can be one percentage point or more above what their last recorded performance level was for those key measures.”

Korach said he shares this goal with the OEIB, and will be working in the coming days with Jonnie Shobaki, director of elementary education, and Donna Atheron, director of secondary education, to determine how best to achieve it.

“Reading, writing, math ... if you can’t do those ... you’re going to have difficulty with any particular course of study, and so it is so important that those foundational core academic skills get taught very well and that our students learn them,” he said.

“I don’t expect to see Lake Oswego go from 91 to 100 percent graduation rate in one year, but the goal is to get to 100 percent by 2025,” Lowe added. “Everybody needs to take a little bite at a time.”

Crew has directed all districts that did not aim for improvement to submit revised achievement compacts by Oct. 15.

“Initially, the first email communication said we passed because they made a clerical error where several districts were notified that they had passed, but they were not actually accepted,” Korach said.

Districts that fail to meet their new targets will not be penalized.

“This is not like No Child Left Behind,” Lowe said. “It’s really about setting ambitious but achievable goals for the students in your district.

“We would hope that a community like Lake Oswego ... can help illustrate the best ways in which to get there.”