State report cards

Polk County schools get graded

Good news for Dallas elementaries

DALLAS -- It's report card time again. This time the schools are being graded rather than the students.

For Dallas, the report card carries wonderful news as both Oakdale Heights and Lyle Elementary schools earned "Exceptional" ratings from the statewide evaluation.

Few schools attain that level let alone two schools in the same district.

Overall ratings for other schools in the Dallas district are:

♦ Dallas High School -- Satisfactory.

♦ LaCreole Middle School -- Satisfactory.

♦ Whitworth Elementary -- Strong.

Neither Bridgeport nor Rickreall received a rating as a result of their enrollment size.

An "exceptional" rating can be seen as getting an "A" grade. A "strong" rating is a "B" and a "satisfactory" rating can be considered a "C."

A lesson being taken from the results is the district's dramatic decline in overall scoring relative to state averages on reading and math scores.

Reading and math scores for Dallas third-, fifth- and eighth-graders all show results above state averages. However the 10th-grade scores in both those areas fall below state averages.

"We need to look at the data and review our instructional practices in reading and math," said Dallas superintendent, Dr. Dave Novotney.

"We have an improvement plan that we hope to maintain in spite of the financial situation."

A five-year study, the Oregon Communities that Care Survey, by the University of Washington shows Dallas youth facing a good deal more "at-risk behaviors" starting in their middle school years.

Those situations are found at both home and school. That study has involved surveying Dallas students as they have progressed through the system during the past five years.

The superintendent indicates the data may shed light on the statewide testing results.

Bell: take Central scores in context

INDEPENDENCE -- Forget about traditional grading guidelines when you consider the marks given local schools on the Oregon Department of Education's report card.

To get an accurate view of what the local report cards really mean, you have to remember that the ratings are given within a broader context, taking into account the past years' progress.

For example, Monmouth Elementary School received a "Satisfactory" for the 2001-02 school year. "Strong" and "Exceptional" are ratings ahead of the "Satisfactory."

When the report cards were first issued, MES earned an "Exceptional."

Each year, the state looks for improvement, and that is the major component of the score.

"So if you're an MES and score high in the first place and you don't improve, but keep that standard, the report card makes it look like you're 'Satisfactory,'" said Superintendent Forrest Bell.

"I guess that's one way of doing it, but we're not less proud of maintaining that high standard as we are of those who are continuing to improve.

"But I think it's important that the people who work in our schools know that we know that. We have a pretty sophisticated group of parents and citizens in our community as well, and we think they realize what we have here too," Bell said.

Overall, the Central District has much to be proud of in the latest report card. Monmouth Elementary students consistently scored higher than their peers in math and reading, as did Henry Hill and Independence elementary schools in math.

Independence Elementary earned a 90th percentile in students who exceeded or met the state standards compared to 62 percent in the state.

Henry Hill followed close behind with an 84th percentile ranking.

Central moved forward from its position last year of "Satisfactory" to earn a "Strong" rating overall. Tenth-graders displayed a nine percent jump in reading and an 11 percent increase in math skills.

Central High students have made steady increases across the board, even gaining one percent over the state average in math.

One fact emerged from the Central School District report card that Bell is enormously proud of: All schools earned an "Exceptional" ranking for school character.

"We did well, we're very pleased," Bell said.

"And when you look at Central and how the staff there has been able to raise standards under the worst possible conditions, to give of themselves over and over again, to make it work and be good sports about it -- they are real professionals and our community is fortunate to have them.

"They've had to work real hard."

Perrydale riding high

PERRYDALE -- The Perrydale School District is strong. The new state report cards can't say it enough.

Neither can Superintendent Greg Sumners. "There's not a high school around that can touch what we just scored.

"We're head and shoulders above."

The district had strong ratings in academic achievement / student performance and attendance / dropout / student behavior. It scored an "exceptional" for school characteristics.

Perrydale students performed at or above state levels for nearly every category and grade level measured.

Sumners wants to work on elementary attendance in the future. "Even if we focus on getting attendance up just a percent, it could be positive.

"Kids could get an award for perfect attendance."

Falls City scores mixed bag

FALLS CITY -- The Falls City School District earned satisfactory marks for its elementary and high schools, scoring "excellent" in school characteristics and "low" in "attendance / dropout / student behavior."

Falls City 10th-graders performed the best of all grades tested against state averages, earning a 93 percent in writing.

Eighth-grade scores were lower than state averages in all subjects tested.

Measured over a four-year period, scores for eighth- and tenth-grade reading and math knowledge and skills declined.


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