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State mistake lowers academy's report card score

MeeuwsenDarla Meeuwsen, executive director of charter school Sauvie Island Academy, recently applied to appeal the report card issued to the school by the Oregon Department of Education, though it appears the appeal was too late.

Meeuwsen called for the correction of inaccurate data in regard to the school’s number of economically disadvantaged students — those students receiving free or reduced-cost lunches — and the resulting inaccurate scores given to that particular group, which affected the school’s overall score.

The report card rated SIA’s economically disadvantaged students at a Level 3 out of 5 under the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.

Meeuwsen said that category was rated inaccurately considering not all of the school’s economically disadvantaged students were accounted for in the ODE report.

Had all the students been accounted for, Meeuwsen said, the category would have been rated at a Level 4, bumping the school’s overall rating from “below average” to “about average” when compared to elementary schools with similar demographics.

Meeuwsen said the state’s report card accounted for only 28 economically disadvantaged students who took the OAKS test, when in reality there were 38.

“It was really disappointing,” Meeuwsen said. “So much credence in our federal grant is given to, ‘What are you doing to help underserved populations?’”

“People are much savvier consumers nowadays when it comes to education,” Meeuwsen added. “They want to check ODE ratings.”

Despite the inaccurate data, SIA scored above average overall when compared to schools statewide.

When Meeuwsen tried to correct the data, she was told by ODE that she had missed the window for correction.

“We regret that the following data was not reflected accurately on the 2012-13 Oregon Report Card for Sauvie Island Academy,” wrote Rob Saxton, deputy superintendent of public instruction with ODE in a letter of explanation to Meeuwsen.

“ODE will not be able to re-run the report cards or change ratings,” Saxton wrote.

The letter continued to state that, if accurate numbers had been used, they would have caused changes to the Economically Disadvantaged category rating in reading from Level 3 to Level 4.

“We regret it is too late to make a rating change, but feel that this exercise provided additional information to the state, the school district and your school in the upcoming year,” Saxton’s wrote in the letter.

“That’s not an acceptable answer to me,” Meeuwsen said, speaking of ODE’s statement. “Charter schools often don’t get painted in the best light nationally. I don’t think publishing incorrect data helps.”

Meeuwsen said she contacted state Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, and Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, about the issue. Meeuwsen said Johnson and Witt both reached out to the ODE to no effect.