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Schools pleased with ranking


   Two School District 509-J schools improved and Culver schools maintained good scores on the State School Report Card rankings, released Tuesday by the Oregon Department of Education.
   In Culver School District 4, Culver Elementary and Culver High School were rated satisfactory for the second year in a row, while Culver Middle School earned a strong rating for the second year.
   State Report Card scores run from a top ranking of exceptional, to strong, satisfactory, and low, with unacceptable being the worst ranking.
   Culver Middle School Principal Alice Smith said, "We're pleased to have a strong designation for the second year in a row," and said it was "a testament to all the hard work by the staff and dedication of the students to improving academic achievement."
   Smith said the school had been able to take extra steps toward improvement through a federally-funded Comprehensive School Reform Project. The project focuses on plans for reading, writing, math, science, English as a Second Language, behavior and parent involvement.
   "It provides a road map for improving in all those areas and has provided us with great assistance to move forward," Smith said.
   In the 509-J district, Jefferson County Middle School went up a step, from unacceptable to low.
   "We're excited about it, and pleased to see a lot of the work we've been doing was recognized," said Principal Steve Johnson. "It reflects on the school a little more positively."
   Johnson attributed the improvement to the staff's focusing attention on behavior and testing. "The report recognizes all the work the staff and students have done, and that we're headed in the right direction," Johnson said.
   Madras High School, which hovered in the unacceptable-low zone, was pleased to learn that it maintained a low ranking for the second year (MHS' rating was 1.0 and an unacceptable rating is any score less than 1.0).
   "It's still a priority for us to make improvements in the areas we're not satisfied with, particularly reading and math," said Principal Gary Carlton.
   Carlton noted there had been a slight improvement in attendance, and the dropout rate, around 3 percent, was excellent.
   "Last year we were under heavy construction and didn't have optimum testing opportunities. This year we will, which will put us on a more fair playing field," Carlton said.
   Madras Elementary, Metolius Elementary and Warm Springs Elementary all earned satisfactory ratings again.
   Westside Elementary, however, jumped up a step to a strong score (from 2.2 points to 3.2).
   "We were pleasantly surprised," said Westside Principal Marlys Alger.
   "We believe the improvement is connected to our Reading First Grant, in which kindergarten through third grade classrooms focus 90 minutes a day on reading. The fourth and fifth grades (which are not part of the grant) have also just adopted that program because it has been so successful," Alger said.
   She also credited the new Every Day Math program, which 80 percent of Westside teachers used last year.