School district officials are pleased with the increased scores in math and English language arts

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - School district officials are pleased with the increased scores in math and English language arts.

How do Crook County students measure up to others across the state?

The Oregon Department of Education released the 2017-18 statewide summative assessment results on Thursday, and Crook County School District students increased their English language arts and math scores in 13 out of 14 grades measured, said Stacy Smith, the CCSD curriculum director.

"We are excited and encouraged by the student performance data from our last school year," he said. "We have information on seven grade levels of state testing. In English language arts, we increased the percentage of students reaching grade-level proficiency in six out of seven grades. In math, we increased the percentage of students proficient in seven out of seven grades."

Students in grades three through five improved in English language arts, math and science, with more students scoring proficient compared to the 2016-17 school year.

Students in seventh and eighth grades improved in English language arts compared to the previous school year, while sixth graders dipped. Middle school math and science scores were higher across all grades.

At grade 11, students were up from the 2016-17 school year by 11 percentage points in English language arts, and they were up in math achievement and down in science.

"Compared to like schools in areas with like poverty, we do extremely well," Smith pointed out.

Compared to regional school districts, Crook County is about average, with the Bend-La Pine and Sisters school districts scoring highest, and Jefferson County scoring lowest in the region. Culver, Redmond and Crook County had similar results.

"Overall, we are at or near the Oregon state average, which is quite an achievement, considering our historical data on math," Smith said. "It is significant that we are near the state average. We experienced significant increases to get there."

He said the district will continue to measure its performance and make changes for improvement until every single student is performing at grade level in all areas.

"Traditionally, our special needs and English Language Learners have needed the most support, and we can see some signs that our interventions are working," Smith said. "We just need to continue to work together on improvement strategies. It is nice to see that some of our efforts are beginning to pay off."

Each spring, the state tests students in grades five, eight and 11 using OAKS science tests. Students in grades three through eight and 11th grade take the Smarter Balanced English language arts and math test.

The Smarter Balanced tests are not multiple-choice, rather students are asked to write, reason, think critically and solve multi-step problems at their own pace, which better reflects classroom learning and the real world, according to the Oregon Department of Education.

The Smarter Balanced tests are not pass/fail exams. Students who receive a 3 or 4 on the test (on a 4-point scale) are considered on track to graduate high school and prepared for their next steps. Those who receive a 1 or a 2 will receive additional support to help them get on track.

The federal government set a participation target of testing 95 percent of students to ensure that the results are reflective of a school, district or state's students.

The 2017-18 school year was the fourth year for local students to take the Smarter Balanced tests.

"We attribute the gains to the hard work of our staff, and we attribute the math gains to an investment of significant dollars by the board in math improvement," Smith said.

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