Results are out for school performance standards, known as the Smarter Balanced Assessment, with test scores statewide shifting slightly down from the previous year. Brookings-Harbor School District and Central Curry School District 1 are no different. Both districts are within the scope of systemwide decreases over the previous year. The test scores are compiled by the Oregon State Department Education and were released on Thursday, Sept. 19. The Pilot asked Central Curry School District 1 Superintendent Tim Wilson and Brookings-Harbor Interim Superintendent Chris Eberhardt to help us make sense of the numbers.
“State assessment scores are just one indicator of how students are achieving in school,” Wilson said. “Knowing that students learn at different rates but are taught to the same standards, the Smarter Balanced Assessment does not necessarily indicate the actual amount of growth a student has made over a year's time. Other measures help teachers and students show successes, as well as make necessary improvements.”
Every school district in the state is included in the data, which can be viewed from the vantage point of statewide results, district results, and individual school results. The data is reported in terms of the percentage of students who have met a proficiency of 3 or 4 for Mathematics and English Language Arts based on tests administered in Grades 3 through 8 and Grade 11. The scores give a snapshot that helps determine whether students are on track to eventually graduate.
A number of factors can skew the data—from daily attendance habits to whether students are hungry, tired or stressed, according to the February 2019 Interim Assessments Interpretive Guide by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).
“The math scores are not where we want them to be.” Eberhardt said. For Eberhardt, the first question to ask is “Does staff know what standards are on the test?” Towards that goal, Brookings-Harbor High School principal DeAnne Varitek has reached out to the state to learn more.
For example in math, there are 200 different math standards, but the test only measures 50 of those standards, Eberhardt said. “So which standards are aligned with our curriculum? We hope to make educated guesses, however, if we are repeatedly off, we need to understand it.”
The Brookings-Harbor District teaches an integrated math curriculum instead of traditional, isolated silos of Algebra 1, Geometry, Trigonometry and Calculus as they have been taught for decades, Eberhardt explained.
“Only 20% of schools in Oregon are using an integrated math curriculum,” he said. “It’s a more progressive way to teach math across the curriculum, and the state approves of the method.” Students aren’t learning just algebra principles; lessons may cover elements of geometry or calculus.
Language arts skills at the Brookings-Harbor School District are better than math scores, especially for Grade 11, where 59.8% of students performed at a proficiency of Level 3 or 4.
“Elementary scores are within a couple of percentage points of the state average in both English/Language Arts and Mathematics, Wilson said about Central Curry SD 1. “Our individual growth indicator is in the high range. Of particular strength are the middle school scores in both academic areas.”
Wilson attributes the elementary and middle schools’ successes to “having an experienced staff with consistent lesson delivery and updated curriculum.”
At the high school, juniors continue to score well above the state average in English/Language Arts,” Wilson said. “Math overall scores took a slight decrease but more than half the students met the essential skills requirement for graduation in June 2020.”
“Professional learning goals for the district this year include specific training in teaching best practices to high standards as well as increasing the amount of mentoring and instructional coaching for teachers and paraprofessionals,” Wilson said.
Eberhardt’s vision for the future is to “provide an education that works for ALL students, not just those who are college bound, but an education that inspires students.” The high school offers a large number of dual credit classes, where faculty are qualified to teach courses that count for both high school and college credit. They also offer a number of classes that offer professional certifications, for example in digital media where classes are taught by certified teachers who can offer certificates of mastery.
“Student achievement is what it is all about,” Wilson said. “The SBAC is one indicator of achievement but students will continue to have other opportunities to demonstrate their essential skills development throughout the system with consistent instruction, up to date instructional materials and the efforts of the entire school staff to assist students in meeting their academic, emotional and social needs.”
To take a deeper dive into data, test results can be downloaded at this link: https://www.oregon.gov/ode/educator-resources/assessment/Pages/Assessment-Group-Reports.aspx