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Deputy Superintendent Yvonne Curtis: 'The schools identified for comprehensive and targeted support are schools we had already identified as schools needing significant support.'

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero speaks with Deputy Superintendent Yvonne Curtis as a recent board meeting. Portland Public Schools is home to nine of the lowest-performing schools in the state. That's according to data released Wednesday and an analysis released Friday from the Oregon Department of Education.

PPS is also home to five schools that are performing at or near the highest hopes for Oregon's schools.

The Oregon Department of Education came under sharp criticism after The Oregonian reported that the school report cards had been delayed until after the hotly contested Nov. 6 election.

The state agency did release test score data in mid-September and graduation rate data last January. But Oregon Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Colt Gill said he waited to release additional metrics, comparisons and easy-to-read report cards because of the massive policy switch from the No Child Left Behind Act to the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

"What I wanted was, frankly, to provide a big splash," said the head of the Oregon Department of Education. "And say: 'We are here to partner with our school districts and our local communities,' 'Here's data on your schools and here's all the kinds of supports we want to come to you with, local school district,' and say 'Let's work to improve the outcomes for all of our kids.'"

A spokesman at the Department of Education said the state agency would "co-create" a plan with PPS to support the district's struggling schools. That could include extra staff, a needs assessment, improvement plan support or regional workshops.

Gill also noted the difficulty in accurately grading schools where lots of students opted out of the state tests — ESSA counts those students as having "not met" the standards. In Portland, many high school juniors opt out of the test.

The Portland schools that were struggling the most — an alternative high school, six elementary schools, a K-8 and a charter school — were not a surprise to district officials.

"The schools identified for comprehensive and targeted support are schools we had already identified as schools needing significant support," Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Yvonne Curtis said in a statement to the Tribune. "Portland Public Schools as a district has not had systemic support in many years ... It isn't surprising that our schools serving the most historically underserved students were identified as those most in need of support."

Curtis said neither PPS teachers nor school administrators had been given evidence-based curricula, professional development or supports. But now, she said, the "entire district" is "laying the foundation" and "identifying specific supports" for these underserved schools.

Best and worst

Struggling schools in PPS:

Alliance High

Boise-Eliot Elementary

César Chávez K-8

Lent Elementary

Rigler Elementary

Rosa Parks Elementary

Scott Elementary

Sitton Elementary

Trillium Charter

High-achieving schools in PPS:

Abernethy Elementary

Ainsworth Elementary

Forest Park Elementary

Le Monde Charter

Winterhaven School

The nine-page report cards for the more than 1,200 Oregon schools are on the state website.

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