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Only half of Southwest Portland schools maintained same principal for three years, figures show

PMG FILE PHOTO - West Sylvan Middle School has some of the most crowded classes in the region., Portland Tribune - News  Lawmakers roll out billion-dollar plan for student success Portland students had their 2019-20 academic year upended by the coronavirus pandemic and so far, this year looks no different.

Data released in October by the Oregon Department of Education gives little insight into the performance or outcomes for Oregon's students last year. The latest information put out by the state says more about what isn't known than what is.

Typically, the annual release of the "At-a-Glance" school and district profile data provides an overview of how a school or district performed the prior academic year, overall. ODE routinely includes figures about student and teacher demographics, school performance ratings, graduation rates and test scores.

The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in that, the state agency says.

"This year's profiles are adapted from the standard version and do not include statewide assessments data, class size data, 9th grade on-track, attendance data and other information as a result of the statewide transition to Distance Learning for All in March, 2020," Peter Rudy, public affairs specialist for ODE, noted via email.

Test scores are absent from this year's dataset because students didn't take them last year due to COVID-19. That makes it harder to measure student achievement during a time when it might be more important than ever to detect gaps in learning.

"This annual data release comes roughly seven months after our students, families and educators started overcoming the toughest education challenge our state has ever faced," said Colt Gill, Oregon Department of Education director. "I want to take a moment to reflect on the impressive grit and determination of our students, families and educators and encourage them to keep persisting. We are with you, we support you and I know we're all doing our best to return to in-person instruction as soon as possible."

What we do know

Wilson High School saw a 2% dip in on-time graduations between the 2017 and 2019, going from 90% to 88%, the latest numbers show. The Portland Public Schools district averaged an 81% on-time graduation rate, compared with 80% statewide.

Those figures don't include statistics from 2020 high school graduations, which will likely be released next year.

Principals shuffle around

Last year, only half of the schools in Southwest Portland had a principal that had been there for at the previous three years. Administrative shuffling is common within Portland Public Schools. In the 2019-20 school year, Maplewood, Bridlemile, and Stephenson elementary schools had consistency in the principal's office, along with Gray and West Sylvan middle schools. Hayhurst, Capitol Hill and Rieke elementary schools did not. Neither did Jackson Middle School or Wilson High School.

Most west side schools high performing

The most current data available shows the majority of schools in Southwest Portland neighborhoods were listed as "high performing" by the Oregon Department of Education during the 2018-19 school year.

The list of high performing elementary schools includes: Capitol Hill, Bridlemile and Maplewood. Gray, Jackson and West Sylvan middle schools were also high performing.

Rieke and Hayhurst elementary schools ranked "average," with Rieke at the low end of average and Hayhurst at the high end.

Stephenson Elementary was listed as "low performing" for the 2018-19 school year.

In-person learning won't pick back up in Portland schools until at least Jan. 28. That date could change depending on COVID-19 caseloads. Schools must meet stringent health metrics to return to any form of in-person learning.

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