Oregon opens website with school and district report cards after outcry
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
The Oregon Department of Education redesigned district and school report cards with input from families and educators so that they give pertinent information at a glance. (Oregon Department of Education sample draft)
The Oregon Department of Education made redesigned school and district report cards available to the public Wednesday after a political outcry over a planned delay.
Typically, the report cards are made public in October, but ODE recently announced plans to release the reports Nov. 15, after a tight race is decided between Democratic incumbent Kate Brown and Republican challenger Knute Buehler. News of the planned delay prompted allegations that the suspected poor results were being withheld to protect Brown’s candidacy.
On Twitter, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Colt Gill said Wednesday that Brown asked ODE to make the profiles available as soon as possible. Gill said ODE would make improvements and add supporting documents soon.
Districts had already received “updated previews” of their report cards in late September, and much of the data had been released in other reports.
Oregonians are currently marking their ballots for the Nov. 6 election, and education is one of the defining issues in the gubernatorial race.
Oregon’s education system typically performs poorly against national measures, with one of the shortest school years, lowest graduation rates and highest chronic absenteeism rates. Brown says that under her administration, school spending has risen 22 percent and graduation rates have gone up 3 percentage points. She also points to measures to address absenteeism, add preschools and create professional development for educators.
Buehler, R-Bend, says it’s not enough. Oregon’s 77 percent graduation rate is among the country’s lowest, and Public Employees Retirement System cost increases have gobbled up much of the State School Fund growth. Buehler has promised a 15 percent increase in state education funding and PERS cost-control measures.
ODE redesigned the report cards to make them more accessible and to meet federal Every Student Succeeds Act requirements. Districts are still digesting what the latest report cards say about schools.
Brian Bain, district assessment coordinator for the Tigard-Tualatin School District, said ODE has not explained how to interpret the new report cards. ODE has scheduled an explainer webinar for Nov. 13.
“There’s been a lot of talk with my peers about the fact that we don’t yet have that technical manual so we haven’t gotten a lot of details on how everything is calculated,” he said.
The report cards include data on class sizes, regular attenders, on-track to graduate, graduation rates and completion rates as well as scores at various grade levels on English language arts, math and science. The cards compare school and district data against the previous school year and state averages and have demographic breakdowns of teachers and students.
Umatilla Superintendent Heidi Sipe is a fan of the new report cards. She said they do a great job of compiling information from multiple reports with easy-to-understand graphics.
“I think it will be a positive communication tool to use with parents, students and the community,” she said.