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Student-teacher ratios above national average

Statewide Report Card also shines a light on attendance and graduation rates, student homelessness and more


Despite a slight drop at the elementary school level, student-teacher ratios in Oregon are much higher than the national average, according to the annual Statewide Report Card released this week.

Much of the information contained in the Report Card has been previously reported by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), such as graduation rates, state testing data and homelessness. But the report card issued Monday delves more deeply into those topics and includes new data on everything from student-teacher ratios and employees’ gender makeup to students’ language of origin, absenteeism and attendance.

The state Legislature mandated the annual report in 1999.

The Report Card “really is an incredible resource for anyone who is interested in education, because it has historical data, it has trends over time, it has lots of pieces that make it a one-stop shop,” ODE Communications Director Crystal Greene said. “Our hope is that it really informs people as they’re learning about and researching education issues.”

One of those issues is the ratio of students to teachers in the state’s classrooms. The national student-teacher ratio is about 15-1, according to the Institute of Education Sciences. But in all grade levels in Oregon, the student-teacher ratios are much higher, even though they have dropped slightly in recent years. In elementary schools, the ratio decreased from 21.3 in 2013-14 to 20.4 in 2014-15; the middle school ratio dipped from 22 in 2013-14 to 21.3 in 2014-15; and the high school ratio dropped from 22.6 in 2013-14 to 21.9 in 2014-15, the Statewide Report Card said.

Another issue is attendance, which is measured by attendance rate — the average percentage of enrolled students who were present on any given school day — and chronic absenteeism, which measures the percent of students who were present for 90 percent or more of their total enrolled days. In 2014-15, fourth-graders had the highest attendance rate at 94.9 percent, while high school seniors had the lowest attendance rate at 89.6 percent. About 17 percent of students were chronically absent, and the chronic absenteeism rate among economically disadvantaged students was 22 percent.

Green said though most students are attending school 90 percent of the time or more, when a student is chronically absent, “that really does have an educational impact on them.”

Language of origin also impacts students, many of whom may be learning in their second language. For the 564,818 K-12 students in Oregon in 2014-15, the most common language of origin was English at 78.2 percent, followed by Spanish at 14.6 percent, Russian at 0.83 percent and Vietnamese at 0.78 percent. Other languages of origin for hundreds of children in Oregon include Chinese, Arabic, Somali, Ukrainian, Korean, Romanian, Japanese, Chuukese (spoken in Micronesia), Hmong, Tagalog (spoken in the Philippines), Marshallese, Hindi and many more.

The Statewide Report Card also found:

¦ The percentage of female principals rose marginally from 45 percent in 2007-08 to 48 percent for 2013-14, where it remained in 2014-15. About 70 percent of the teacher population has been female since 2007-08, only slightly higher than in 2000-01, when it was 68 percent. And the percentage of female superintendents peaked at 33 percent in 2008-09 before dropping to 29 percent in 2014-15; still, that figure is more than twice what it was in 2000-01, when 14 percent of superintendents were women.

¦ In 2013-14, 72 percent of students graduated with their four-year cohort, 75.9 percent with their five-year cohort. As previously reported in The Review, the four-year graduation rate in the Lake Oswego School District in 2013-14 was 90 percent and the five-year grad rate was 91 percent. More-recent data will be available early next year.

¦ The percentage of 11th-graders that met or exceeded the Smarter Balanced testing standards last school year was 67 percent in English/language arts and 31 percent in math. As previously reported in The Review, 86.5 percent of LOSD 11th-graders met or exceeded the Smarter Balanced testing standards in 2014-15 in English/language arts, 58.6 percent of them in math. Eleventh-graders had a low participation rate of about 60 percent because of a student-led campaign at Lake Oswego High School, however, so experts say the local numbers aren’t wholly reliable.

¦ Counts of homeless students are at pre-recession highs, despite Oregon’s improved economy. In 2014-15, 20,524 students — or 3.6 percent of the population — were homeless, as opposed to 18,051 students in 2008-09. As previously reported in The Review, the Lake Oswego School District had a relatively low homeless rate in 2014-15: 16 students, or 0.23 percent of enrollment.

Contact Jillian Daley at

503-636-1281 ext. 109 or

jdaley@lakeoswegoreview.com.

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