Home News Local News UNION HIGH GETS 'EXCEPTIONAL' RATING
UNION HIGH GETS 'EXCEPTIONAL' RATING
By Dick Mason
Observer Staff Writer
Union High School has reason to celebrate.
The school has received a report card from the state that puts it in noteworthy company.
The school received an overall rating of "exceptional'' in the fourth-annual Oregon Department of Education school report card program. Ninety-one schools in the state received this ranking. A total of 1,082 schools were evaluated.
High ratings on the state report card reflect things such as excellent state assessment test scores from last spring, good attendance and low dropout rates.
"We are very pleased. We were surprised to get it (the exceptional ranking),'' said Union High School Principal Jim Taylor.
Taylor said the news was welcome following the defeat of Measure 28 Tuesday.
"It was kind of a positive after Measure 28,'' Taylor said.
Measure 28 would have temporarily raised state income taxes, providing schools and state agencies with additional revenue.
Union Elementary School also was deemed honor-roll material, earning an overall ranking of strong, the highest mark after exceptional.
A total of 11 schools or school districts received strong rankings in Union and Wallowa counties. Two in the La Grande School District achieved "strong'' overall rankings Central and Riveria elementary schools. The strong ranking for Riveria is a posthumous salute since the 90-year-old school was closed in June because of the building's poor condition.
La Grande's Greenwood, Willow and Island City elementary schools, and its high school and middle school all received satisfactory ratings.
La Grande School District Superintendent Jay Rowell was happy with Greenwood's overall rating of satisfactory. Greenwood received a low rating a year ago. Rowell credits the improvement to hard work by Greenwood's staff. He noted that the staff is continuing to work to realign its curriculum to better help students meet state standards.
"I believe that Greenwood students will accomplish great things in the future,'' Rowell said.
The La Grande superintendent said the report card ratings mean more this year because the state has raised its standards for them.
The report cards also gave educators in the Wallowa School District a reason to smile. The state gave both Wallowa High School and Wallowa Elementary School "strong'' overall ratings.
John Nesemann, principal of Wallowa High School and Wallowa Elementary School, credits the strong rankings to a number of factors.
"We are very fortunate to have a stable and experienced teaching staff,'' Nesemann said.
Wallowa students also benefit from the strong support they receive from their families and the community.
The Wallowa district often receives high marks on the state report cards, yet Nesemann is not a big fan of the program. He does not like it because it pits one school against another.
"We have made school a horse race. I worry that people will get caught up in it,'' Nesemann said.
What really matters, he said, is how each student is doing individually.
Nesemann also dislikes the fact the state report cards place an emphasis on standardized test scores.
"We are in this national mode of testing and quantifying. We are boiling students down to some magic number,'' he said.
Union and Wallowa county schools and districts which also received 'strong'' overall ratings included Elgin High School, Joseph High School, Enterprise High School, Enterprise Elementary School, Imbler Elementary School and the Cove School District.
Schools and districts that received "satisfactory'' overall ratings in addition to the La Grande schools included: Stella Mayfield School in Elgin, Imbler High School, the North Powder School District and Joseph Middle School.
No schools in Union or Wallowa counties received low or unacceptable ratings.
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