The new report cards: use the data to ask questions | Chalkboard Project

The new report cards: use the data to ask questions

Thursday, October 10, 2013 Sue Hildick

As the school and district report card ratings roll out today and community members dig into the data, there will clearly be those who are excited about the new ratings and those that are not. The new report cards offer a more complex view of school performance than previous years and recognize the importance of individual student growth—something every parent should be glad to see. We applaud the educators and community members that worked to create a school report card that gives a more holistic view of performance.

Parents and community members should be aware, however, that regardless of how they feel about this year's ratings, student performance data is in a state of messiness. The state and every school district is in a time of transition—adopting higher standards, implementing new curriculum, changing testing procedures, evaluating results differently, etc. All of these changes are intended to benefit students and give them a high quality educational experience regardless of their zip codes. All of these changes will also lead to some "bounciness" in student assessment outcomes. It will take a few years to get to the other side of this transition and we will have to be patient with the data.
Oregon is putting the right pieces in place to strengthen our education system and make sure all children are on a path toward success. In addition to the common core state standards which will help make high school graduates college and career ready, the state is making investments in supporting great teaching. Supporting every teacher in every classroom to do their best work will lead to greater success for every student. The right work is being done, but the results won't be clear overnight.
While we are in this time of transition, it is especially important to dig into the data and talk to those who are deep in the work. Print out your report card and talk to your fellow community members about the strengths of your school and the areas for improvement. Talk about what you'd like to see that isn't in the report card. Then talk to classroom teachers and school leaders about the realities behind that data. Most principals or superintendents would welcome the opportunity to talk about the data and offer an insider's perspective on what it all really means. Data is useful for raising questions, discovering trends, and identifying outliers, but it is never the full story. Commit to having those informative conversations with the educators in your local school.
Oregon is on a promising path toward a stronger education system. Let's keep moving forward and talk to each other about what's working and what isn't. The data is going to be messy, but higher standards and a more meaningful experience for students will be worth it. 

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