A new way of rating school performance

August 3, 2012: Today, schools in Portland and across Oregon received new school performance ratings. The new ratings are based on overall student achievement, student learning growth and academic growth among historically underserved students.

These ratings are part of Oregon’s alternative to the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) school accountability system -- also known as the No Child Left Behind law. (The federal government approved Oregon’s ESEA waiver last month.)

I am encouraged by Oregon’s waiver and new accountability framework. This is a better way to measure school performance and support school improvement. We have some accomplishments and gains to celebrate, but this framework also reinforces our urgent need to get better results at some schools and to do a better job to ensure that every student succeeds.

  • Overall, 10 out of our 81 schools received the highest rating under Oregon’s new system. Another 36 received the second highest rating. At the same time, 12 schools were identified as among the lowest performing high poverty schools.

However, Oregon’s new accountability system gives schools better tools and training to improve their results. In the past, the federal ESEA law relied on a sanctions-based approach that removed resources from struggling schools.

  • Oregon’s new approach has demonstrated early success at three PPS schools identified as ‘priority’ schools: Roosevelt, Madison and King.
  • Last year, using home-grown school transformation strategies, Roosevelt and Madison produced an 11 percent gain and an 8 percent gain in their graduation rates, respectively.

In its first year of a School Improvement Grant, King Elementary produced dramatic student growth – including 80 percent of 3rd graders meeting reading benchmarks – which elevated it to a Level 4 rating.

To see how your school and other schools were rated, click here.

These results will be reflected in school report cards released later this fall. Next year, the state plans on using these measures to develop a new school report card.

The results will also inform new Achievement Compacts that every school district is developing this year to set school performance goals. Parents and the broader community will have opportunities to weigh in on PPS’ Achievement Compact later this fall. I will keep you informed about this process and I encourage you to share your input. We all have a stake in the success of every student, every teacher and every school.

Carole Smith