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Tigard-Tualatin students outperform peers statewide

But achievement gaps continue to affect schools serving a higher percentage of low-income families

TIMES FILE PHOTO - Students in the Tigard-Tualatin School District outperformed most of the state on the Smarter Balanced Assessment tests, but the tests also revealed some performance gaps within the district, too.For the second school year in a row, students statewide, including in those in the Tigard-Tualatin School District, spent hours taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment, a new standardized test evaluating their knowledge based on Common Core standards.

Last week, the Oregon Department of Education released results from the 2015-16 school year, revealing that while students in the Tigard-Tualatin School District outperformed their peers statewide, achievement gaps continue to affect schools serving a higher percentage of low-income families.

Results were largely similar to last year’s scores

District-wide, 66 percent of participating students met English proficiency standards, compared to 55 percent statewide.

Fifty-two percent of students in the district were proficient in math, compared to 42 percent in the state.

Third- through eighth-graders, as well as high school juniors, took the Smarter Balanced test.

Smarter Balanced replaces the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge (OAKS) test in English and math. Students in fifth, eighth and 11th grades continued to take the science portion of the OAKS test.

The Smarter Balanced assessment was designed to be more rigorous than the OAKS test, with the intent of raising overall standards and boosting post-high school college and career readiness. Oregon adopted Common Core standards in 2010.

Achievement gaps continue

Socio-economic achievement gaps remained in place in schools across the district, as well as statewide.

Students from low-income families met proficiency standards in lower numbers, especially at the elementary school level.

At Metzger Elementary School, 57 percent of students — the highest in the district — are eligible for free and reduced lunches based on their families’ incomes. Only 42 percent of students at Metzger Elementary met proficiency standards on the mathematics exam, the lowest percentage in the district.

On the other hand, students at Mary Woodward Elementary School — where only 18 percent of students are eligible for free and reduced lunches — had the highest percentage of students pass the math standards in the test, with 69 percent meeting proficiency standards.

Results showed the same kind of achievement gap on the English Language Arts test.

But in English, students made significant gains from third to fifth grade at nearly every elementary school, suggesting that students are improving as they progress in their schooling.

Bridgeport Elementary School, which has one of the district’s highest percentages of students eligible for free and reduced lunches, saw a 23 percent higher number of fifth-graders who met English standards compared to third-graders.

Around 50 percent of students at Bridgeport Elementary are native Spanish speakers.

“Our kids are making good progress. ... They’re really making a lot of growth,” said Debbie Ebert, principal at Bridgeport.

Both Metzger and Bridgeport have dual-language immersion programs.

“We really wanted to close that gap for our Spanish speakers,” said Ebert.

This year, the Tigard-Tualatin School District included in its strategic plan specific language about increasing access and opportunity for economically disadvantaged families.

“For me, getting class sizes way down would be a perfect place to start,” said board member Barry Albertson. “Ultimately, these gaps are really about and must be defined by individual kids and individual families, and we ... need to make sure that we provide resources to help them, as unique and special individuals and families.”