Schools’ test scores below state averages
Written by Don Iler, Pilot staff writer   
September 17, 2013 09:07 pm

While showing improvement, the Brookings-Harbor School District continues to lag behind state averages in most areas according to test score results released last week by the Oregon Department of Education.

Brookings-Harbor was below state averages in reading, writing and mathematics at nearly all grade levels. The district, however, scored better than the state average in science.

At the state level, fewer students passed or exceeded standards in math and reading assessments, displaying a downward trend across most grade levels.

Only 58.3 percent of Brookings-Harbor 11th graders met or exceeded state math standards, below the state average of 68.8, while 76.6 percent of 11th grader met or exceeded reading standards. The state average is 84.5 percent of 11th graders meeting or exceeding standards in reading.

Central Curry School District, which includes Riley Creek Elementary and Gold Beach High School, bucked trends and showed improvement in most grade levels and exceeded state averages in most areas, especially in math and reading at the high school level.

The computer based Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, or OAKS, is given to students in grades three through eight and 11 annually. It tests students in mathematics and reading literature. Students are also given a writing test in 11th grade and are tested in science in fifth, eighth and 11th grades.

The writing test given in 11th grade showed the sharpest decline — 7 percent — at the state level. 

Central Curry also showed a 12 percent decline in the writing test while Brookings-Harbor showed an 8 percent improvement compared to last year.

In a press release, the Oregon Deputy Superintendent Ron Saxton said that most of the decline in the writing test had to do with students not being able to retake it as they did in years past.

Saxton also said because of a waiver the state received from the federal Department of Education, schools showing poor test results would not be losing funding, and that schools were testing less than they had in the past.

Brian Hodge, superintendent of Brookings-Harbor School District, said the district was still looking at the data and analyzing what parts of it are useful.

“This is a check, a piece of accountability,” Hodge said. “We want to take the data and dig down into it. There are a lot of variables going into it and its very complex. We’re not looking for excuses but trying to figure out what you can do to make it better.”

OAKS testing will be phased out in 2014-2015, when new Smarter Balance Common Core standards testing will be given to students.

Smarter Balance is one of two multi-state organizations that received federal funding in order to develop tests based on common core standards.

Test scores in 2011-2012 dropped at the state and local levels after new standards and computer based testing were introduced.

Hodge said the district is looking at improving in many different areas, from graduation rates to test scores. He said that a counselor has been hired at the high school level, and that the district was also considering attendance rates, and how often students move in and out of the district.

“We are in the process of developing a system to make our own checks and balances to see how we are doing,” Hodge said.

Oregon-issued report cards grading schools throughout the state are expected to be sent out in October. The report cards look at a variety of factors, including graduation rates and test scores, to give schools grades of outstanding, satisfactory or unsatisfactory.