The Oregon Department of Education revamped its report cards for the state’s k-12 public schools this year.
The state has given statewide report cards since 2000, and while there have been changes to the format of the reports since then, the new redesign is the most comprehensive.
“Our education system is changing, our schools are changing, and we needed these report cards to change as well to better tell our school’s stories and to provide parents and community members with critical information on students and school performance,” said Rob Saxton, deputy superintendent of Public Instruction.
The report cards now being accompanied by letters from principals and superintendents in addition to enhanced school or district profiles, complete with demographic charts.
Two overarching ratings are now being applied to schools, one which compares them to the rest of the state, and another which compares them to schools with similar student demographics, which include poverty, mobility, minorities and English learners percentages.
Another section focuses on student performance over time and, at the high school level, outcome data like the percentage of freshmen on track to graduate and the number of students who have chosen to go on to college.
According to the Oregon Department of Education website, the new accountability system places more emphasis on student learning and growth. Using multiple measuring categories to rate schools, each receives a level 1 to level 5 rating depending on how well it scores in each of the measured areas.
Level 1 schools represent the bottom 5 percent, while Level 2 makes up the next 5 to 15 percent, Level 3 the next 15 to 44 percent, Level 4 the largest grouping accounting for 44 to 90 percent of schools, with Level 5 representing the top 10 percent.
“One of the nice things that’s happened with the new report cards is there’s now a portion of it based on growth and another portion based on performance,” said Pat Consoliver, principal of The Dalles Middle School.
“In the past it was just about who meets or who exceeds the benchmarks. This style is much more in line with what we try to emphasize at school, where we celebrate growth.
“If a student has achieved tremendous academic growth, but still hasn’t quite managed to meet the benchmark, that level of improvement is now being represented in the report cards too.”