Compact achievement targets set

June 22, 2012 12:47 pm


By Dick Mason

The Observer

Kindergarten attendance and assessment test scores for students are likely to  continue climbing in the La Grande School District in 2012-13.

Higher assessment test scores and improved attendance are elements of a proposed achievement compact between the school district and the Oregon Education Investment Board, which the La Grande School Board recently approved.

La Grande and all school districts are required to annually enter into achievement compacts with the OEIB, which was created by state legislation in 2011. 

The compacts set targets for districts in the categories of college and career readiness, student progression, equity and other areas.

Targets which are part of the La Grande compact include having 75 percent of the school district’s fifth graders, eighth graders and 11th graders meeting state benchmarks for reading and math at the end of the school year.

Students are judged on whether they meet benchmarks based upon how well they do on state assessment tests. Presently, between 70 and 71 percent of La Grande district students are meeting state benchmarks for math and reading at the fifth, eighth and 11th grade levels.

On the attendance front the compact calls for 75 percent of kindergartners to have attendance rates of at least 90 percent. In the past school year about 70 percent of kindergartners had attendance rates of at least 90 percent.

Glaze said studies show that children who have good attendance rates in kindergarten perform better later in school and are more likely to graduate from high school.

Another attendance target concerns high school freshmen. The compact calls for 90 percent of high school freshman to have attendance rates of at least 90 percent in 2012-13. It also calls for at least 90 percent of high school freshmen to earn at least six credits.

Glaze said one of the compact’s focus is freshmen because it is important for them to get off to a good start in high school.

He said if they fall short of earning six credits as freshmen they will be “playing catch up’’ the next three years while striving to complete graduation requirements. 

 To boost attendance at ninth grade and all levels Glaze said is hoping to have the school district obtain the services of a truancy officer. The officer would make visits to the homes of families whose children have chronically poor attendance. The truancy officer would be provided by the intermountain Education Service District. 

Glaze stressed that he is in the preliminary stages of looking into this. 

The compact also focuses on getting more La Grande High School students to take advantage of the opportunities LHS offers to earn college credits. One target is for 10 percent of LHS’s seniors to have at least nine college credits by the time they graduate. These credits can be earned at LHS via a number of college credit classes offered at the school.

Glaze said the intent of this target is to increase the number of students who go on to college. He said students who earn college credits in high school have a greater chance of later enrolling in college. 

The targets mentioned are just a few of those in the compact the school board voted for. The compact must now be approved by the OEIB. Districts falling short of targets will not be penalized.

Glaze said he is impressed with the OEIB’s new education compact program because it encourages districts to set realistic student achievement goals which make sure that students, starting in elementary school, are on track to meet state standards needed to graduate.

A request to allow La Grande Middle School sixth-graders to be members of their school’s wrestling team was also discussed at the board meeting. Presently there is no school wrestling program LMS sixth graders can be a part of. 

Jason Kehr, a local youth wrestling volunteer, made the request. Kehr said this would further the development of the students’ wrestling skills and help them be more successful in high school competition. 

Kehr also said allowing sixth-graders to join the team would not cost the school district any money in part because of the pay to play fees the families of the wrestlers would have to pay.

LMS assistant Principal Brett Jackman said he is a supporter of wrestling but said he was opposed to having having sixth graders join the wrestling team because of a fiscal concern.

Jackman fears  if sixth graders are allowed to join the team, parents and community members will be pushing to have sixth graders allowed to play on LMS’s other athletic teams. Jackman said allowing sixth graders to join these teams might increase the cost of operating LMS’s athletic program, an increase it might not be able to afford.

 Glaze agreed to meet Kehr and Jackman to develop a plan for allowing sixth graders to wrestle at LMS which would address the concerns expressed.