Targets raised for academic proficiency and high school graduation

The Lake Oswego School District has revised its achievement goals for 2012-13 and submitted them to the Oregon Education Investment Board this week.

In June, LOSD and every other Oregon K-12 school district submitted “achievement compacts,” targets for student achievement in the coming school year. These targets were expected to aim for improvement and work toward accomplishing the state’s ultimate 40-40-20 goal that by 2025 40 percent of adult Oregonians will have earned at least a bachelor’s degree; 40 percent have earned an associate degree or postsecondary credential; and the remaining 20 percent have earned at least a high school diploma.

Oregon Chief Education Officer Rudy Crew initially accepted only those achievement compacts that aimed for improved third-grade reading and math proficiency and high school graduation rates. Crew requested that all other districts, including LOSD, rewrite their targets and submit new achievement compacts by this coming Monday.

• The original 2012-13 LOSD achievement compact set targets for 87 percent of third-graders demonstrating reading proficiency and 89 percent demonstrating math proficiency, and 91 percent of ninth-graders graduating from high school in four years.

• The revised LOSD compact set targets for 91 percent third-grade reading proficiency, 91 percent third-grade math proficiency and 92 percent high school graduation.

With the district undergoing the greatest change in its history over the last two years, Superintendent Bill Korach and Director of Secondary Education Donna Atherton set their initial achievement compact targets for the same level of high performance as before.

At a school board meeting Monday, they explained that because the June deadline to submit achievement compacts came well before the Oregon Department of Education provided districts with data for 2011-12, they modeled their targets on data from 2010-11.

Yet when ODE released state assessment results in September, the data showed a 3.3 percent improvement in third-grade math performance from 2010-11 to 2011-12.

“The 11-12 data said that we performed a little higher, which meant that we had projected a little bit lower,” Atherton said.

LOSD had inadvertently aimed for lower math achievement for 2012-13, but even if it had aimed for the same high level of performance as 2011-12, a revision still would have been called for. Beginning this year, Oregon has placed an emphasis on growth rather than performance. The requirements for achievement compacts that target improvement and a new school ratings system rewarding schools that have advanced from one year to the next were developed in sight of Oregon’s 40-40-20 goal.

A statement issued by Atherton and Korach said they feel capable of meeting the third-grade proficiency targets in their revised achievement compact thanks to teacher training in the areas of math and literacy instruction and the implementation of common assessments and data teams at each school, and the increased high school graduation target because of professional development staff members have received and operational changes such as an additional math connections course and supported study hall for struggling students.

But members of the Lake Oswego School Board say 40-40-20 is a goal that needs to be reconsidered.

“The whole program falls on its face when you say 100 percent of kids are going to graduate from high school,” board member Bob Barman said. “It is never, ever going to happen, for a lot of reasons.”

“That’s precisely the problem with 40-40-20,” board member Linda Brown said.

Korach said now is not the time to launch a resistance effort against this approach to education.

Although board chairman John Wendland agreed with the superintendent, he also said, “When we see it is to our advantage, we will attack.”

“And,” board member Patti Zebrowski said, “I think we’ll be joined by other districts.”

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