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Over the top once again

All district schools rated 'exceptional'

Lake Oswego School District officials are proud. On Tuesday, they received an exceptional rating on the state report card for all 13 schools for the second year in a row - an accomplishment that is unprecedented for a district of that size.

'This is really huge for us,' said Superintendent Bill Korach. 'It's a great tribute to our kids, teachers and community.'

This is the 10th year the Oregon Department of Education has released a state report card. This is the final of three major reports released on public schools each fall; the other two are the state tests in reading, writing, mathematics and science and the federal Adequate Yearly Progress report required under No Child Left Behind. Of the three reports, the state intends for the school report card to be the most complete look at how a school is doing.

The school report cards include information about student test performance, school improvement, attendance, dropout rates, class size, SAT scores, expulsions due to weapons along with teacher education and experience. Schools receive separate ratings for student performance, improvement, student behavior, and school characteristics. A formula is applied to these separate ratings to designate an overall rating of exceptional, strong, satisfactory, low or unacceptable.

Lake Oswego's school report card ratings are noteworthy in light of statewide results that indicate an overall decrease in the number of schools rated strong or exceptional. A total of 1,130 schools in Oregon were rated, and of those, 129 received ratings of exceptional.

In neighboring school districts, both Riverdale schools, four West Linn-Wilsonville schools, five Tigard-Tualatin schools and 13 Beaverton schools received exceptional ratings. In Portland Public Schools, 22 percent of its 91 schools received an exceptional rating.

'We take great pride in these report card ratings,' said School Board Chair Deborah Lopardo. 'Credit for this achievement belongs to the district's highly qualified teachers and staff, and to the hard-working students who make learning a priority. A great deal of credit is also due to the parents and community members in Lake Oswego whose support is so instrumental to the success of the district's schools and its students.'

The 2007 state Legislature made changes to Oregon's school report cards to increase the accountability of schools and to ensure that the right schools would be identified as needing improvement. An additional benefit is that these changes will bring the Oregon rating system into closer alignment with the federal rating system under No Child Left Behind, and this should reduce the confusion between the two systems. For example, a school could receive a 'Strong' or 'Exceptional' rating on Oregon's school report card and also be rated as 'Not Meeting' on the federal report.

'Many school officials and parents have been puzzled by the differences between the Oregon and the federal ratings,' said Pat Burk, chief policy officer at the Oregon Department of Education. 'We worked closely with the Legislature to come up with modifications to the report card that would make sense. The goal of the report card is to give an accurate view of a school's performance and to target assistance. Having two opposite ratings caused confusion for everyone.'

ODE state report cards and AYP results can be found on the ODE Web site at the following location: http://www.ode.state.or.us/data/reportcard/reports.aspx .

State assessment scores and SAT scores for Lake Oswego schools can be found on the LOSD Web site: http://www.loswego.k12.or.us/ .