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Welches Schools assessment scores rebound last year posted on 10/02/2017

The Oregon Department of Education released the 2016-17 state assessment results in September, with the Oregon Trail School District (OTSD) above state averages of percentage of students meeting state academic standards in English Language Arts (ELA), math and science in all grade levels.

After lower scores in ELA and math in the 2015-16 school year, the Welches Schools rebounded to post similar scores in both areas to the 2014-15 school year.

Welches Elementary School saw a small increase in its science score, from 77.1 to 79.2, while the middle school experienced a small decrease, from 82.4 to 78.9.

Welches Schools Principal Kendra Payne wrote in an email that the differences in scores each year is normal, while drawing conclusions from those changes is not necessarily an effective practice.

“Test results for each year are a snapshot of what individual groups of students know and can do during the testing timeframe, so some fluctuation can be expected,” she noted. “Comparing results from year to year is essentially comparing the abilities of different groups of kids, and can be misleading.”

Welches Elementary came in above the state average for ELA for 2016-17, while the middle school came in below the state average. Both schools were slightly above the state average in math, with the elementary school slightly above in science and the middle school above the state average in science by nearly 14 percentage points.

The district utilizes other methods to assess student achievement, including interim assessments (including written, verbal, observation and web-based) by teachers. These assessments offer teachers immediate feedback on any gaps in learning and allow them the opportunity to adjust teaching strategies to improve student outcomes.

Payne noted that the state results align with the district results.

“We are seeing increased use of problem solving and critical thinking strategies by students in the classroom, which are reflected in state assessment results,” she wrote.

Payne added that the Oregon Trail School District has received a grant for its elementary schools to be trained in RTI, a proven method of identifying students in need of academic support and developing effective supports for them, as a way to improve student achievement.

“The work we started last year in using iReady, an interim assessment system, has also assisted us in identifying students who need more support and customizing the type of support they need,” she wrote.

“We are actively engaging students in their learning, making sure they develop the skills and habits to be lifelong learners while building a foundation of basic content knowledge and skills,” Superintendent Aaron Bayer added in a press release. “We are proud of our team of teachers, counselors, and support staff for their unwavering commitment to every student who walks through our doors.”

By Garth Guibord/MT




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