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Local school district compares favorably with its regional peers, though there's room to improve

GRAPHIC COURTESY OF BECKY STEVER - The local school district compares favorably with its regional peers, though there's room to improve.

Crook County schools tested among the highest in Central Oregon for language arts and math according to recently released data by Oregon Department of Education.

However, room for improvement remains as some score have dipped from scores the previous year.

Each year, students in grades three through eight and 11 are administered the Oregon Statewide Assessment System, formerly known as Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Overall, data from testing during the 2018-19 school year showed the Crook County School District outpacing Jefferson, Culver and Redmond's school districts in English language arts with a score of 54.4%. Only Bend/La Pine School District fare better at 60.7%. In math, Crook County's 38% score was only bested by Redmond (42.2%) and Bend/La Pine (49.4%).

Year-over-year change was a mixed bag for Crook County. Gains between the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years were seen in grades four and 11 for language arts. Fourth-grade scores rose from 48.6% to 56.3% and grade 11 scores climbed from 68.7% to 70.4%. However, notable decreases were seen in grade three, which dropped from 50.9% to 47.9%; grade seven, which dipped from 64.3% to 55.4%; and grade eight, which saw scores drop from 59.5% to 51.8%.

Math score increases came from grade four, which rose from 44.7% to 47.1%; grade five, 33.1% to 36.8%; and grade six, 31.5% to 40.3%. Declines were seen in grade three (47.8% to 38.7%) and grade seven (38.1% to 32%).

The highest scoring group for English language arts was grade 11 at 70.4%, while the lowest score was in third grade at 47.9%. In math, fourth-graders scored highest (47.1%) and grade 11 score lowest (27.1%).

Crook County School District Curriculum Director Stacy Smith noted that improvement efforts within the district continue to pay dividends, and he acknowledges there are some areas where they would like to get better.

"While we are extremely pleased with the steady academic improvements we have seen the past few years, we continue to look for areas of improvement," he said.

Math growth at Crook County Middle School and Crooked River Elementary particularly stand out in the district data, said CCSD Director of School Improvement Joel Hoff. For the second straight year, third through eighth grade student growth in math and English Language Arts is rated "High" for the district as a whole.

"While there is plenty to celebrate in terms of student achievement and growth, we still have areas that we will focus on in the upcoming school year. We will continue to focus on improving math achievement at all levels district-wide," Hoff said. "We will also continue to increase supports for our students with special needs and English Language Learners."

Crook County School District Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson said student achievement is extremely important to the district.

"Everyone in the district is working toward the success of students, and the data released by the state is just one of the indicators," she said. "Every year, we are improving, and there are some significant bright spots on our report card. We celebrate the improvements and push on to outstanding achievement in all categories."

Hoff concluded that the district still have areas where it isn't as strong as it could be, to ensure our students are career or college ready, but he is encouraged with the direction the district is headed academically.

"Overall, we are very proud of the effort on the part of our staff and students to improve student outcomes," he said. "The work is definitely paying off."

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