The Prineville/Crook County community expresses a lot of pride in its pioneering spirit, willingness to think outside the box and stand out amongst not only neighboring communities, but even those throughout the state.
Perhaps that is why community leaders and residents alike will sometimes perk up when a facet of this community is compared against its regional peers. Even the editorial staff of the newspaper likes to engage in this activity, and one need look no further than last Friday's front page story on school test scores for proof.
The graphic tells the story well. Crook County schools are second out of five when measuring the percentage of students that meet math benchmarks, and they are third out of five when comparing similar scores for English language arts. These are pretty favorable comparisons, but certainly offer an opportunity to improve and fare better in the future.
A deeper dive reveals that some grades showed improvement including several instances of double-digit percentage jumps, but declines emerged in other grades though none dropped a double-digit amount.
Let's face it, education is a tough job and those who are willing to take it on in this pressure-cooker environment of test score benchmarks should be applauded for the work they do. Every kid is different – some are highly motivated and excel in an academic environment while other students struggle with any number of challenges – so making testing benchmarks can't be easy.
It has not gone unnoticed that teachers spend a great deal of time meeting to improve in math instruction or to improve teaching of other core academic subjects. Meanwhile, administrators meet on a regular basis looking for ways to improve not only the academic side of the educational experience but the culture of the schools, which can have its own impacts – positive or negative – on how students perform.
And more recently, the school district under the direction of Superintendent Sara Johnson has made a substantial push to bolster its career and technical education offerings. The intent is to not only provide more options for students as they work toward the end goal of entering the workforce, but to give students another way to learn and apply the core subjects they were introduced to at a very young age.
These efforts show a clear attempt to boost the education offered in Crook County. But the job should not be theirs alone. Though parents and families count on the professionals to teach their kids the core academic subjects that they will rely on for a lifetime, they should be willing and eager to prepare their kids to succeed in school. Ask yourself if the children in your life are understanding the material. Are they getting their work turned in on time? Are they putting forth the effort to maximize their talents?
Yes life is busy, work is demanding and raising children takes a great deal of energy, but the need for help in education doesn't end when a kid walks out the school door each afternoon.
So stay engaged, help keep kids on track and let's see if the test scores look even better next year.
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