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Changes in the works for school report cards


In a new format, report cards will be released Oct. 10

State education officials are updating school and school district report cards statewide.

The annual report cards are a data-driven measurement of the state of education in Oregon, an assessment of 197 school districts. With changes to how report cards measure student test results, education officials aim to achieve a more accurate measurement of student academic growth.

“This particular model is not focused on achievement,” said Donna Atherton, director of secondary education for the Lake Oswego School District. “It is focused on growth. We, in the past, have been focused on achievement. This is going to be a very different way for us to look at our assessment data.”

Every school in LOSD is ranked “outstanding” in the 2011-12 report card. Portland Public Schools ran the gamut that year with school rankings of “in need of improvement,” “satisfactory” and “outstanding.”

The school report cards, with data from last year, will be released in the new format Oct. 10. Report cards in the new format are complex with up to four years of measurable data on one student factoring into the school’s overall growth measurement. The idea behind the changes is to make it clearer where a student is and needs to be.

“It’s not, ‘You just didn’t pass,’” Atherton said. “It’s not, ‘You did not meet the standard.’ (It is) if you grow by this many points you can meet the standard.”Atherton

In the new format, students are rated on a range of system indicators, each of which is weighted. In high school, the system is different because of graduation: achievement in reading and math (20 percent), growth in reading and math (20 percent), subgroup growth (10 percent), graduation for all students (35 percent) and subgroup graduation (15 percent). Subgroups are economically disadvantaged, students with disabilities, limited English proficiency and historically underserved races and ethnicities, including Hispanic and black students. For elementary and middle schools, the rating system indicators are weighted as such: achievement in reading and math (25 percent), growth in reading and math (50 percent) and growth for subgroups (25 percent).

Schools will be rated as level 5, the top 10 percent; level 4, above average; level 3, below average but not in the lowest 15 percent; level 2, in the lowest 15 percent; and level 1, in the lowest 5 percent.

In the existing report card, a student either meets or exceeds state standards or does not. Students are rated on test results, participation and academic growth. In 2011-12, the percent of high school students in the state who met or exceeded the standards were 84 percent in reading, 67 percent in writing, 66 percent in math and 64 percent in science. That’s higher than in the previous year and a sizeable jump from the 2009-10 numbers of 71 percent in reading, 53 percent in writing, 56 percent in math and 58 percent in science.

Despite the improvement in scores, there’s still room to grow, and that’s what the change is designed to do: Improve academic growth.

According to state documents, the report card redesign is intended to align with the Achievement Compact, an agreement among the state, K-12 school districts, education service districts, community colleges, the university system and Oregon Health & Science University. The compact sets goals for student progress with measurements including graduation rate, post-secondary school enrollment and high school graduation.

The redesign also was intended to more accurately reflect growth and “to include measures of broader content, more complex thinking skills and characteristics critical to success in college and workplace,” according to Oregon Department of Education materials.

The rating system is based on the Colorado Rating System, which employs annual reading and math tests and graduation rates to produce ratings.

The new report card also will feature a personalized letter from a school’s principal. Lake Oswego’s last report card had a form letter from Oregon Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Rob Saxton.

In his letter in the 2011-12 report card, Saxton noted that the report card improvements are aimed at “providing you with the best possible information about your school and your student’s education.”

For more information on the new state report cards, visit ode.state.or.us/go/nextgen.