ODE releases report card for Newberg schools
With the volume of information slimmed down due to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Newberg School District received its annual report card from the Oregon Department of Education in late October. The numbers don't provide as much analytical information as previous years, but do point to a number of key demographics and graduation rates among Newberg students.
"It really was a different process this year," said district communications coordinator Gregg Koskela. "Normally, those are a real detailed glimpse of how our students are doing academically, and we just didn't really have that this year. For us in the district, those report cards didn't add anything that we didn't already know because we report it to them. (However) it's an opportunity for the community to see the data that we deal with every day."
The graduation rate among Newberg students was 85% in the 2019-20 school year, a full 5% above the statewide average. The five-year completion rate was 89%, a few ticks above the statewide rate of 86%.
Koskela chalks up that improved number to efforts by the district, staff and the students themselves to improve local students' academic standing.
"We have done a lot of work over the last couple of years to bring up those graduation and completion rates to where they are now," Koskela said. "At Newberg High School, they have really worked on the personal connection side from the moment ninth graders set foot in the school, which we have found helps students stay in it for the long haul. Connections to adults who can help them, along with career and technical education offerings, have made all the difference."
"We've made a concerted effort to be checking in with our students to see where they are in terms of course completion, progress toward graduation, etcetera. We push in with targeted connections to students, to figure out what they need and how they can achieve that. Whether it's class load or credit recovery, we try to figure out what they need to get over the finish line. That personal attention has made a difference."
Where personal attention has made the most difference for students is within the district's underserved populations, whose graduation rates have seen a significant uptick in recent years. Hispanic and Latino students now graduate at an 84% rate, nearly even with white students (86%).
"If you go back three or four years, there was quite a bit of a gap between our traditionally underserved populations and other students in terms of graduation rates," Koskela said. "Now, those gaps have really closed and certain groups who are traditionally underserved are even graduating at higher rates than the overall. That is what we want — for everybody to have the same opportunity and excel."
Hispanic and Latino students make up approximately 21% of Newberg's student population. But despite improved graduation rates among that demographic, the district acknowledged that it would like to narrow the gap in demographics between teachers and students of Hispanic/Latino descent to better serve its entire student population. Five percent of teachers in Newberg are Hispanic or Latino, according to the report.
"When Joe came in as superintendent, he already had a lot of connections with organizations of educators who are Hispanic or Latino," Koskela said. "We are recruiting educators for both our dual language programs and the district at large, and we are doing our best to hire native Spanish speakers and people who might fit into those demographics. We know that's an area that we want to improve, and we have been doing targeted things to address that need."
For more information on the Newberg School District's annual report card, visit bit.ly/35RwwMW
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