Polk County schools get good marks

Report cards released by education department

POSTED: Jan. 29, 2002

EDITOR'S NOTES: This is the first in a series of stories about how the annual state school report cards relate to Polk County students.

POLK COUNTY -- Polk County schools brought home good report cards from the Oregon Department of Education Jan. 24.

Every school in the Central district showed improvement in some significant area, said Superintendent Forrest Bell.

All schools in the Dallas School District received an overall rating of satisfactory or better. Perrydale School scored near or above state standards in all areas.

Falls City scored satisfactory across the board.

It was a good year for Oregon schools in general, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Stan Bunn said.

More than 230 schools improved their grades on this year's state report cards, Bunn said.

"I'm delighted with the improvement in Oregon schools," he said.

"The improved ratings in our third annual report card reflect higher test scores, higher attendance and lower dropout rates. Oregonians should celebrate the fact that Oregon teachers and schools are good and getting better."

Of the schools that received report cards, 236 improved their ratings from last year's report and 722 stayed the same. Fifty schools received an exceptional rating, 563 received a strong rating, 485 received a satisfactory rating, and 14 received a low rating.

There were no schools with an unacceptable rating.


DALLAS -- All of Dallas' schools are in good shape, according to a statewide report card issued by the Oregon Department of Education.

All schools in the Dallas School District received an overall rating of Satisfactory or better. Bridgeport Elementary received the highest rating possible -- exceptional.

"Bridgeport has a very loving, caring, nurturing environment," Superintendent Dave Novotney said.

"It also has a slightly lower student-to-teacher ratio. I think those are factors that led to the exceptional rating."

The only scores that declined from last year's report card were the student behavior ratings at Dallas High School and LaCreole Middle School. The student behavior ratings are based on attendance and dropout rates.

While both schools were still rated satisfactory, last year each received a rating of strong.

"That is a surprising development," Novotney said.

"Our dropout rate has actually improved, and Dallas has a very low dropout rate compared to a number of other schools. We are a little bit puzzled by the rating."

Dallas High's dropout rate in 2000-01 was 3.71 percent, down from 4.55 the year before and lower than the state average of 5.25 percent.

Novotney was pleased by the district's overall scores on the report card, and noted that Dallas is below average when it comes to general fund expenditures.

"Dallas consistently spends less money, which in essence tells our community that our teachers do an exceptional job. We do more with less," he said.


INDEPENDENCE -- As the semester ended in the Central School District, students weren't the only ones worried about their grades.

Administrators were just as nervous, awaiting the Oregon Department of Education's annual school report cards released Jan. 24.

"Probably more so," said Central High Principal Linda Florence. "All of us get uptight."

But no one is getting grounded for this report card. "I'm pleased," Florence said. "I think we're going in the right direction."

Every school in the Central district showed improvement in some significant area, said Superintendent Forrest Bell. "Our buttons are kind of popping right now," he said. "This is looking like very good news for Central School District."

Each school rated received at least a satisfactory overall mark. Monmouth and Independence elementaries received an overall rating of "strong."

Oak Grove elementary was not rated.

The report cards also broke the ratings down into individual categories. All Central schools received an "exceptional" rating for the percent of students taking state assessment tests.

District elementaries all got "strong" marks for the attendance and dropout rates. Talmadge Middle School and Central High School were deemed "satisfactory."

The student performance category measured test results in reading, writing and math. All rated Central schools received a "satisfactory" or "strong" mark in this category.


FALLS CITY -- Falls City's schools continue to be satisfactory, according to school report cards released by the Oregon Department of Education.

Falls City Elementary and High School both received a satisfactory rating, the same rating they received last year.

The lowest ratings were in the student behavior category, which is based on attendance and dropout rates. The Elementary School's behavior rating was unacceptable -- the same score as last year. The high school improved from unacceptable to low.


PERRYDALE -- Perrydale School scored near or above state standards in most areas, earning an overall rating of "strong."

"The scores keep getting better and better," said Perrydale Superintendent and high school principal Greg Sumners.

While he appreciates the school's recognition, Sumners said his focus is not on the state tests. "We're running the school the way we as professionals think the school ought to be run," he said.

"We're not off on a state plan -- we're on a Perrydale plan."

Though he thinks school report cards are a good idea, Sumners recognizes the important information they omit. "Some of our success has more to do with the character of the kids and community service...that's something our kids excel at.

"Like any single test score, it's just one piece of the puzzle."

Report cards provide information from specific test days. While the information can be used to chart a school's improvement over the years, it's just a brief glimpse at a small topic area, Central's Bell said.

"It's an accurate reflection of where we were on that day," he said, adding: "And that's not bad."


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