The Hillsboro School District begins a nine-month project to review and improve its programs.

Some programs in the Hillsboro School District may look a little different this fall once a nine-month project to expand and strengthen various programs is complete. COURTESY PHOTO: GIRL SCOUTS OF OREGON & SW WASHINGTON - The management group will be looking into the district's English Language Learners and special education programs, among others.

Starting this month, the district will work alongside District Management Group, based in Boston, to assess the quality of the district's English Language Learners program and special needs programs, among others, to identify strengths and weaknesses, said assistant superintendent Travis Reiman. The district hired the group to review its programs and provide feedback in an effort to better serve students who are traditionally underserved in school districts, Reiman said.

"We talk a lot about equitable experiences and outcomes for students in our district — that's at the center of our strategic plan, and when we look at student achievement, whether it's math or science or language arts or graduation rates, we continue to struggle to serve our English learners and our students with special needs," he said.

In the Hillsboro School District, 69 percent of students with disabilities graduated on time in the 2017-18 school year, along with 79 percent of students considered "ever English learners," according to a report card from the Oregon Department of Education. In the 2015-16 school year, ODE's most recent report on the district's special education program, 59.7 percent of students with IEP's, or individualized education programs, graduated with a regular diploma in four years. The state target is at least 78 percent, according to the report. With a state average of 41 percent, 19 percent of "ever English learners" and 11 percent of students with disabilities were meeting state grade-level expectations in math in the 2017-18 school year.

Reiman said a third party can look at the programs impartially, to better address how the programs are structured.

The project comes in three phases, Reiman said: First, project leaders will study the district's demographics and student achievement, followed by focus groups and interviews with staff and administrators about how the district helps stuggling students. Finally, project leaders will look at how much time teachers and administrators spend with those students.

"They will (then) be able to do a high-level analysis of how we use our time and how we structure our services to students," Reiman said, "Then they can give us feedback on how that matches up to districts that are like us; (districts) that are successful in serving students, or make recommendations to us on things we might consider doing differently."

Reiman said the district will use the findings to improve its programs and invest in areas that are already effective.

"With their analysis, we will be able to make our long-term plan for things that we are doing well and things that we might have an opportunity to improve in," he said.

Reiman hopes the district will have an outline of a plan by this summer.

"We hope to improve our programs and services for the students who need it the most," he said. "We know who our traditionally-underserved student populations are, and especially for our English learners and our students with IEP's, we hope that this gives us the opportunity to reinforce what we are doing well and to improve in areas where we need to."

By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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