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Insight gained from test scores

The results of Oregon state assessment tests are in.

The Oregon Department of Education uses those results along with numerous factors in determining a “grade” for every school in the state.

ODE is not releasing it’s school report cards for the 2012-13 year until Thurs, Oct. 10.

Nevertheless, the Estacada principals have been reflecting on the state assessment results, and what they mean for their schools.

Clackamas River Elementary

“I think overall we would have hoped to have done better, but we understand we had a lot of challenges this year,” Principal Seth Johnson said of Clackmas River Elementary’s state assessment results.

In every individual grade level subject tested except fifth grade science, Clackamas River Elementery tested below the state average.

However, Clackamas River tested above the Estacada district average at every individual grade level subject tested except sixth grade math.

Johnson attributes the results to “massive changes” during the year.

He explained that Clackamas River will not be rated by the state for the 2012-13 school year because of its merger with River Mill Elementary during that year.

As the state report cards assess two years worth of data from the schools, Clackamas River will have to wait another year for a state grade.

Johnson explained that state standards for math proficiency greatly increased in the 2012-13 state assessment.

He said that Clackamas River Elementary is implementing a new math assessment system in order to raise the math scores.

“We were well above our growth in reading than we were supposed to be,” Johnson said and pointed out that the school improved it’s reading assessment results from the year before by a much higher percentage than the median growth target identified by the state.

“I still am proud of all the work we put in,” Johnson said.

Eagle Creek Elementary

Eagle Creek Elementary Principal Dan Draper said he was pleased with the improvement of test scores among age cohort groups in his school.

“Every cohort in reading moved up. So that’s the direction we want to be headed,” Draper said.

Draper explained that it’s instructive to track test score progress among an age cohort of students as they move up through the grades.

Comparing this year’s third-graders to last year’s third-graders is examining two entirely different groups of students, Draper explained.

Eagle Creek Elementary fifth-graders tested higher than the state average in science and the sixth-graders tested higher than the state average in math.

Every other individual grade level subject tested was below the state average.

Third grade reading was well below the district and state average. Only 34.7 percent of the 2012-13 third-graders met or exceeded state requirements.

“That’s going to be a challenging (group of students) throughout. A lot of special ed students and a lot of ELL (English Language Learner) students, a lot of students will need intervention,” Draper said of last year’s third-graders. Draper explained that there were many more students learning English and students with special needs than usual in that particular cohort.

Draper added that as Eagle Creek has a small student body, each individual test score is significant to the school’s average scores.

“We just need to continue to work in our professional learning communities to figure out why this is happening,” Draper said.

He said that staff would continue to work to identify students who need intervention.

“We’ll have to figure out as a building how to give extra attention on limited staff,” Draper said.

Estacada Junior High School

79.1 percent of Estacada Junior High seventh-graders met or exceeded state requirements in reading in the 2012-13 year. This score beats the state aveage.

Seventh-graders were below the state average in math. The eighth-graders were below the state average in reading, science and math.

Estacada Junior High School Principal Tina Rhue pointed out that when seventh and eighth-grade reading scores are considered together they beat the state average for junior high schools.

However, the school as a whole is below the state average for math scores.

“The math standards are greatly increased,” Rhue said.

She added that the math tests were particularly difficult for students learning English. But not necessarily because those students couldn’t do math.

Rhue explained that the state math assessment tests are not simply pages of equations. Rather they are complex word problems written in English.

Therefore, for students learning English, the tests were actually testing their English language proficiency and were not an accurate evaluation of their math skills.

Rhue said that she’s asked the English Language Development teacher to do sample math word problems with students learning English in an effort to better equip them for the state assessment tests.

Like Draper, Rhue pointed out that each individual test score is significant to the junior high’s average because of the small student body.

“Every score really counts here,” she said.

Rhue also is the school improvement director for the Estacada School District.

She said that last year she started a new program to track eighth-graders who had difficulty passing state assessment tests into high school.

At the end of the 2012-13 school year, Rhue went through eighth grade report cards and identified students who got an incomplete or had not passed a core class.

If they had passed the state assessment in that subject, Rhue gave them half a credit.

These students are expected to go through credit recovery.

If the student passes a class in the same subject at a higher level, Rhue will then give them a credit for the eighth-grade subject.

For instance if a student fails an eighth-grade math class, but passes a ninth-grade classs, Rhue will give them credit for the eighth-grade class.

Rhue said the program is an effort to hold students accountable for meeting eighth-grade benchmarks.

She said she will probably have to follow students for several years.

Rhue hopes the program will yield data that lends insight into district trends such as dropout rates.

Rhue added that a student’s education and test scores throughout the years is built on a foundation of all of the teachers they’ve had before.

“Things take time to build and grow and that’s why we take pride in this being a K through 12 effort,” she said.

Estacada High School

As previously reported, Estacada High School juniors beat the state average and several rival schools with their competitive scores in reading and math.

Nearly 77 percent of Estacada High School juniors met or exceeded state requirements in math and 90.2 percent met or exceeded the state requirements in reading in the 2012-13 school year.

Administrators attribute this success to their proficiency based learning model.

Like the rest of the state, Estacada High’s writing scores were low. In the 2012-13 school year, only 58.4 percent of Estacada High School juniors met or exceeded state writing assessment requirements.

This is about 2 percent below the state average.

Estacada High School Principal Scott Sullivan pointed out that “last year we were 4 percent above it.”

“Overall it’s not good. We need to do better,” he added.

Sullivan said that the school has already started “writing intervention programs” and will continue with them.

Estacada Charter Schools

The Estacada Web Academy, Early College and Alternative High School tested well below the state average in nearly every grade level subject test.

About 90 percent of juniors from Estacada Alternative High School at Timberlake Job Corps met or exceeded state requirements in reading, a score well above the state average.

The Estacada School Board recently voted to discontinue their alternative high school program at the Job Corps. Job corps students will no longer count as Estacada district students.

Joni Tabler, principal of the Web Academy and Early College explained that these schools have an extremely varied student body.

“Many students choose to come to get back on track,” Tabler said and explained that many of the students have had several gaps in their education and have attended numerous schools in an attempt to find the right fit.

Other students are extremely advanced and choose to attend one of the charter schools in order to have the opportunity to pursue more complex subjects than they’d have an opportunity to study in a regular school.

With that caveat, Tabler said, “We obviously are not satisfied with the results.”

She explained that administrators have developed a five-year improvement plan for the Web Academy and Early College.

Changes include new curriculum, technology and more direct instruction.

“The big change is more one-on-one support,” Tabler explained.



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