Report Card: Molalla SD shows average progress
School districts around the state received their report cards in October, providing a picture of each district's overall performance, attendance, demographics and more from the 2018-19 year.
Molalla's "At-A-Glance" report from the Oregon Department of Education, pictured here, shows average student progress in grades 3-8 and the district's marks tracking fairly closely with statewide averages, but a deeper look at the schools reveals some struggle when it comes to K-8 math and English language arts assessments.
Kathleen French, the district's director of teaching and learning, acknowledged that the assessment scores don't look great at face value.
"Overall, our scores trend much like the rest of the state, with scores showing a drop in performance," she said.
Younger students in Molalla are especially showing a dip in math, with just 26 percent of eighth-grade students meeting grade-level expectations. That's 13 percent below the state average.
Fortunately in Molalla, the process of working to improve those scores had already begun.
Piggybacking on the high school's success in math over the last several years, the district is borrowing MHS's Lori Vandine to help at the younger grades, starting with the elementary schools.
"We called last year 'Year Zero,' because we were just getting everybody's feet wet," French said. "And now, this year is a big push. It's a three-year plan. It's not like it'll just turn us around right away, but [Vandine] just has a really nice feel for how she grows things."
Vandine, who has a background in professional development, is working with teachers from each elementary school who are interested in being leaders and she is training them. Those teachers then turn around and teach the other teachers at their schools.
"I'm pretty encouraged by the model," French said. "You start with your lead teacher, and hopefully that impacts others."
English language arts scores at these lower grades are stronger than the math scores, with at least three classes climbing in achievement from one year to the next, according to French. But she said, the district's "shining light" is the high school, where students are outperforming the rest of the state in both math and ELA.
Other indicators at the high school level are in line with the state, with the graduation rate sitting at 79 percent, identical to the state's rate; and the freshman-on-track-to-graduate rate at 87 percent compared to the state's 85 percent.
"I want to appreciate that people are now willing to say we can't just look at our students as one big [unit]," she said. "We've got to break them down because everyone's got a different story. Isn't that the truth? Kids navigating poverty: that's a serious problem and it impacts learning."
To view the full report card or to view individual schools' report cards, visit ode.state.or.us/data/reportcard/reports.aspx.
Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It costs just a few cents a day.)