Four local high-poverty schools earn top marks
By Tyler Leeds / The Bulletin
Published Oct 9, 2014 at 12:02AM
Four Central Oregon schools were designated as models for the state Thursday morning, meaning their performance puts them in the top 5 percent of high-poverty schools in the state.
The “Model School” list was released by the Oregon Department of Education in conjunction with annual school and district report cards, documents which contain around 200 data points on everything from test scores to the diversity of teaching staff to the average number of students in a class.
Culver Middle, Sisters Elementary and two schools in the Bend-La Pine district, Juniper Elementary and Westside Village Magnet School, earned spots on the Model School list for their work improving student test scores and maintaining high levels of achievement.
All schools are given a one-to-five ranking based on these measures and others, including metrics on the performance of minority students, but only schools that qualify for federal aid based on the financial needs of students can earn the model designation.
In Culver, the district’s middle school is receiving this recognition for the second year in a row, something Principal Bradley Kudlac said he didn’t think was possible after the school failed to meet the state’s “annual yearly progress” targets during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years.
“We’ve gone from jail to a model school,” Kudlac said, referencing the influx of state aid and oversight spurred by the school’s earlier poor performance.
“The state came in and identified the areas we need to improve upon,” Kudlac said. “We had incredible support from our school board and superintendent and put a lot of wheels in motion. We had a school coach and an outside consultant company come in and find deficiencies and tackled those. We’ve focused on student effort and having students show up consistently. We’re small enough that we know each kid’s weakness and strength, and we’ve made sure we’re always expanding on the strengths and working on the weakness.”
Culver Middle met the state’s standards in 2011-12 and made the model list the next school year, an effort Kudlac attributes to the hard work of staff and students.
“I never would have imagined this happening,” Kudlac said. “Most schools, ODE says, it takes six to seven years to get out of jail. We did it in one and the next we’re a model. This is a huge shock, especially having one of the highest poverty rates and the second-highest homeless rate (by district) in the state. We’re working with kids who come to school every day with great challenges.”
The report cards reveal disparities across Central Oregon but also within districts. Across the region, differences emerged most clearly at the high school level. Of the region’s six districts, Bend-La Pine, Culver, Redmond and Sisters all had more than 80 percent of students complete high school within five years, while Crook and Jefferson counties’ districts hovered around 70 percent.
Despite these numbers, two districts had more than 50 percent of students continue their education beyond high school, with 63.4 percent of Bend-La Pine students and 72.4 percent of Sisters students enrolling in a community college or four-year school within 16 months of graduating. Those numbers reflect the class of 2012, the most recent class for which data is available.
The percentage of high schoolers who are economically disadvantaged also varies widely across the region. The lowest rates are 24 percent in Sisters and 37 percent in Bend-La Pine, whereas in Jefferson County the rate is 77 percent.
Within the region’s largest district, Bend-La Pine Schools, seven of the 27 schools evaluated earned the highest overall school performance rating of five. Sixteen of the schools earned a rating of four, while a trio of schools earned a three. One school, Marshall High, an alternative school for students who struggle in a traditional setting, earned a two.
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