Both Culver and 509-J school districts had some pleasant surprises on the State School Report Cards, released Oct. 10.

The state recently redesigned the report cards to make them more user-friendly, and to better show student learning and growth. The high school report cards also show graduation and dropout rates, the percent of freshmen on track to graduate, and percent of students going on to college.

The 2013 report cards give schools an overall rating of Level 1 through Level 5, with Level 1 being the lowest (bottom 5 percent of schools) and Level 5 being the highest (top 10 percent of schools.)

Schools were measured on academic achievement, academic growth, subgroup growth, with the addition of graduation rates and subgroup graduations for high schools. Subgroups include students who are economically disadvantaged, English learners, disabled, or in underserved ethnic groups.

Culver School District 4

In the Culver School District, the overall school ratings were: Culver Elementary, Level 4; Culver High School, Level 3; and Culver Middle School, the highest rating, Level 5.

With high marks for academic growth and subgroup growth, Culver Middle School was named a “Model School” by the Oregon Department of Education.

State Report card for local schoolsModel Schools are high poverty schools that have, nonetheless, made successful student progress. During the 2013-14 year, they will serve as models and mentors to other schools around the state. This year, 26 schools were identified as Model Schools.

A letter from the Oregon Department of Education to Culver Superintendent Stefanie Garber and principals, announced that Culver Middle School was a Model School, noting, “The Oregon Department of Education would like to congratulate you for your hard work and dedication to excellence … Model Schools are the Title 1 schools rated in the top 5 percent in the state of Oregon.”

Garber said the middle school staff made three big changes after the school received a “low” AYP rating two years ago. They were given an ODE coach, and made visits to several successful schools.

“They implemented several ideas that did amazing things,” she said, adding, “Every child now has a class period devoted just to reading, and the scores improved.”

“They implemented a home room period, so someone is following the child’s progress, and can catch kids (having trouble) before their grades get so far down they can’t recover. And they poured into the data,” she said.

“The staff put two years of blood, sweat and tears into it, and endured change after change. But now we’re seeing the payoff,” Garber said.

509-J School District

In the 509-J School District, the overall ratings showed some big improvements, as well as some low ratings. Big Muddy Elementary, with a Level 5; and Metolius Elementary, with a Level 4, were the highest rated schools; while Buff Intermediate and Madras Primary, both Level 2, and Warm Springs Elementary, at Level 1, were at the low end of the scale.

Superintendent Rick Molitor reminded people that since Madras Primary does not have a third grade, “It is graded on the third grade test results from Buff Intermediate, which gets a little confusing.” (Third grade tests results are used in the state report card).

Of Warm Springs Elementary’s low rating, Molitor said, “We are focusing on continuing to find ways to improve academic achievement, and I think the new K-8 building will help us address that.”

“We are using outside state improvement coaches, and reading consultants, and focusing on areas of positive growth and utilizing those for the needed adjustments,” Molitor said.

Meanwhile, while Madras High School’s overall rating was average at Level 3, and the school soared in the areas of academic growth and subgroup growth – earning a top Level 5 in both. It was MHS’s graduation rates that brought its overall score down.

“The high school has an even academic achievement rating of Level 3, and it’s rating of Level 5 in academic growth is really encouraging and exciting to see. The high school just knocked it out of the park through school improvement (programs),” he said.

While MHS was rated Level 2 on its graduation rate, Molitor noted, “Graduation rates are a challenge that we continue to improve upon. We’ve actually seen a slight increase from previous years, so we aren’t losing students, we’ve maintained our graduation rate.”

At Jefferson County Middle School, academic achievement (students meeting state benchmarks) was only ranked at Level 2. But the student’s academic growth from the previous year was at the second-highest Level 4, and subgroup growth was a respectable Level 3.

“Also, with the School Improvement Grant, JCMS really did an excellent job and its academic growth is up from last year,” Molitor said.

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