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Schools receive improved marks from state

The annual state report card suggests most schools in Jefferson County are improving
General Editor
   Jan. 30, 2002 -- Marks were released on State Report Cards, Jan. 24, showing overall ratings for the 509-J and Culver school districts.
   This is the third year the Oregon Department of Education has issued State Report Cards ranking Oregon schools as exceptional, strong, satisfactory, low or unacceptable in five different areas. The scores are based on state benchmark testing of third and fifth graders.
   In the 509-J School District, all schools scored overall ratings of satisfactory, except for Madras Elementary, which moved up a step to a rating of strong.
   Jefferson County Middle School was able to move from unacceptable to low in the area of Student Behavior (includes attendance).
   "We are really pleased with the satisfactory rating and have seen very significant school improvements with our `Excellent Schools' and `Stop and Think' programs were introduced this year," said JCMS Principal Pat Kelly.
   Excellent Schools provides teachers with more powerful learning techniques, he said, while Stop and Think is a schoolwide discipline program involving staff, students and parents all using the same words to talk to misbehaving students.
   Areas where Kelly said JCMS still needs to improve are test scores and student attendance. He noted the school now has a Truancy Board in place to work with parents to make sure kids are in school.
   Madras High School jumped up one step in all categories to move from low to satisfactory overall. The school scored satisfactory in student performance and student behavior, excellent in school characteristics (percent of students tested) and was improved in test scores.
   "It wasn't just satisfactory, we were really close to being strong. We've really come leaps and bounds," MHS Principal Sean Gallagher said, noting the school just missed rating in the strong category.
   He couldn't point to any one factor, but said improvements were a combination of instituting closed campus and guide rooms, teachers paying more attention to students, curriculum adjustments and school safety efforts.
   Madras Elementary improved up from last year, scoring strong overall, in student performance and student behavior.
   Metolius Elementary was not rated last year, due to there not being enough students at the third-grade level. This year it ranked satisfactory overall and strong in student behavior.
   Warm Springs Elementary dropped a step from strong to satisfactory overall, but not by much.
   "Warm Springs only missed being strong overall by one-tenth of a point," noted Supt. Phil Riley.
   The school earned marks of strong in student performance, but fell from satisfactory to low in student behavior.
   Westside Elementary, which scored the best possible mark of exceptional last year, fell two steps to an overall rating of satisfactory this year. But it was due to the recent addition of fifth-graders to the school, it was explained.
   "Third-grade scores throughout the state are higher and fifth-grade scores are lower, so the addition of fifth-graders tends to bring a school's scores down," said Assistant Supt. Keith Johnson. The 509-J district has been moving fifth-graders out of the middle school back into elementary schools.
   "Compared to other schools statewide we're right in there. We have areas we can continue to make stronger, but we're not looking at any black holes," Assistant Supt. Johnson stated.
   In the Culver District, all schools ranked satisfactory, except for the middle school.
   Culver Middle School dropped a step overall from satisfactory to low. Student performance stayed the same (low), student behavior fell from strong to satisfactory, test scores declined, but school characteristics moved up from strong to exceptional.
   Culver High School had the highest marks, rating strong overall, strong in student performance and satisfactory in student behavior.
   Since he just joined the school district this year, CHS Principal Jon Bell said he couldn't take any credit.
   "It's encouraging to have a strong rating for the high school, but I pass along the credit to the teachers in our building," Bell said.
   Culver Elementary stayed the same as last year with an overall rating of satisfactory, and satisfactory in student performance and student behavior.