Tigard-Tualatin outperforms most schools in state assessments

by: FILE PHOTO - Tigard-Tualatin kindergartners had a stronger handle on literacy and basic math skills before entering kindergarten than most school districts across the state, according to new data from the Oregon Department of Education.Parents of young ones often think their son or daughter is ahead of the curve, but in Tigard-Tualatin Schools, it turns out to be the truth.

According to data released by the Oregon Department of Education last week, kindergartners in Tigard-Tualatin School District had stronger math and reading skills coming into school than other students across the state.

“We know that early education plays a profound role in a student’s trajectory,” said Chief Education Officer Nancy Golden, “and the ability to provide concrete feedback to early education providers creates tremendous system alignment and focus toward the third-grade reading benchmark.”

The Kindergarten Assessment, which was released Friday by Gov. John Kitzhaber, was meant to help the state get a better grasp on what students know when they first arrive in school.

The test results come less than a month after Tigard-Tualatin administrator Karen Twain was chosen to help implement free full-day kindergarten to school districts statewide.

The statewide Kindergarten Assessment tested 95 percent of the state’s kindergartners in literacy and math, as well as their interpersonal skills and self-regulation.

The results were sobering.

Statewide two-thirds of kindergartners could not name five letters of the alphabet by the time they started school, and 14 percent of entering kindergartners could not name a single letter.

The tests focused on areas most strongly linked to third-grade reading abilities, widely seen as one of the strongest predictors of future student success, state officials said.

Students were asked to identify as many letters and letter sounds as they could within 60 seconds, and to answer 16 simple math questions about addition, subtraction, patterns and number recognition.

Teachers also observed students during class and assessed them on their self-regulation and interpersonal skills.

“Today’s results validate our focus on reforming Oregon’s historically scattershot approach to early learning,” Kitzhaber said in a statement. “This assessment will help drive our current early learning reforms and accountability for results, and should serve as a challenge to all our communities to focus on kindergarten readiness with a true sense of urgency.”

In Tigard-Tualatin, the numbers were a bit better.

Tigard-Tualatin kindergartners performed better in every category of the assessment.

The highest performing school in literacy was Mary Woodward Elementary, while Bridgeport, Tualatin and Metzger underperformed compared to state averages. All three are Title I schools.

In math, Byrom Elementary trounced the statewide average, with students answering the majority of the 16 questions correctly.

Bridgeport, Durham and Templeton elementary schools scored lowest in math.

Caucasian and Asian students greatly outperformed the district’s Hispanic and Pacific Islander students.

District spokeswoman Susan Stark Haydon said the test results will be useful in tracking how students do throughout the year.

“The real value of it is how far those kids move between start of year and as they move through the system,” she said. “It’s good information because you really can see where you are making a difference and where you need to focus.”

The highest performing school district in Washington County in terms of kindergarten readiness was Sherwood School District.

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