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State Will Provide Help To Henry Hill

POLK COUNTY -- Henry Hill Elementary School in Independence is one of 95 public schools in Oregon that will receive state intervention to boost low student achievement.

POLK COUNTY -- Henry Hill Elementary School in Independence is one of 95 public schools in Oregon that will receive state intervention to boost low student achievement.

The Oregon Department of Education released the first round of data under a new rating accountability system that replaces the "adequate yearly progress" criteria used by No Child Left Behind.

This first report focused on high poverty schools that get Title I federal funding and ranked either at the bottom of growth in scoring criteria or the top-performing 5 percent.

Buzz Brazeau

"Our education system is tasked with preparing all kids to compete in an increasingly complex and competitive world," said Acting State Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton. "This list of schools is designed to help ensure our schools have the tools, resources and support they need to meet that challenge."

Levels between 1 and 5 are given to schools based on how many points they earned out of a scale of 100. Overall point totals are based entirely on growth in reading and math scores and other measurements. The high schools add graduate rates to the mix.

"Priority" and "focus" schools are those showing at the bottom 5 percent and 15 percent, respectively, for achievement growth. These are generally schools that have faced persistent challenges closing achievement gaps, especially for certain subgroups.

Henry Hill was identified as a focus school. There

were no other focus and priority -- or model -- schools on the list from Polk County.

"We're disappointed that our kids didn't improve, but the level of that depends on perspective," said Buzz Brazeau, superintendent of Central School District.

"We have all of our elementary principals working together to figure out how to improve Henry Hill and then carry it on to the other schools," he continued.

The state support promised for schools will be primary training or resources tailored for individual cases, said Crystal Green, an ODE spokeswoman.

Brazeau said his district has assembled a team of educators that has met three times in recent weeks with an ODE specialist who will help Central implement an improvement strategy.

"We could be looking at professional development, curriculum and the one that we do control -- time," Brazeau said. "We'll look at how we can make more time for our young people to learn."

Brazeau said the intent of the new accountability model was "fabulous."

"To use a sports analogy, before if you had the fastest kid in the state turn out for football and fumble twice, he would get cut," Brazeau said. "Now, if that kid turns out and fumbles, we have an opportunity to give him more training."

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