When I attended grade school many moons ago, bringing home my report card was always an interesting experience. Back then we did not have electronic gradebooks or websites where parents could check their student’s progress. The burden of keeping parents informed was pretty much up to each student. So when report cards were sent home, you hoped that the teacher’s remarks matched what you had been telling your parents for the last few months.
Fortunately for me, there were not a lot of surprises. There were subjects that I felt good about and of course other areas that needed improvement. The same can also be said of the new State Report Card for the Battle Ground School District which was recently revealed by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
In addition to information on graduation rates and state test scores by grade level, category and demographics, there are some new data sets, including Ninth Grade on Track to graduate, Regular Attendance, and extended graduation rates all the way out to seven years.
When we look at the data, we look to areas where we can improve and areas where we have shown progress. To get a perspective on how we are doing, we compare ourselves to data at the state level, as well as to schools and districts in our local area and to those with similar demographics.
The state requires us to test students in grades 3 – 8 and 10 once a year in English Language Arts (ELA) and math, and test grades 5, 8 and 11 in science. In Battle Ground, 60 percent of students met the proficiency requirement in English language arts. Battle Ground’s results were above the state average for ELA, but just below the state average for math, where 48 percent of our students met the proficiency requirement. Battle Ground’s overall average scores for both ELA and math were higher than the two larger districts bordering us to the south. In science, we scored higher than the state across all three grade levels that took the assessment.
What the results show is that while we are making gains in many areas, as a district we can do better, particularly in math. To that end, we will soon be requesting that the board adopt a new K–5 math curriculum for next year. This is a significant investment of district funds — especially with increasingly tight levy dollars next year—but a critical one to be able to provide our teachers and students with material that aligns with the state learning standards. It has been close to 10 years since our district has had new math curriculum at the primary level.
Another data point that we examine is our high school graduation rates. In Battle Ground, we have three alternative high school programs and two comprehensive high schools. It’s difficult to compare alternative schools as each one is unique. However, when we compare our comprehensive high schools with those around the county and state, the results are favorable. Together, Battle Ground and Prairie high schools have an average on-time graduation rate of 87.6 percent, and an extended rate (students who took five to seven years to graduate) of close to 93 percent. The average graduation rate statewide is 80 percent.
Additionally, we can see how our ninth graders are tracking toward graduation compared to districts around the state. When we look at the report card’s new Ninth Grade On Track data, which shows the percentage of ninth graders who did not fail any classes, our two high schools average 70 percent. The statewide average is 73.9.
Obviously we have work to do. Our goal of course would be that all ninth graders stay on track and 100 percent of our students graduate on time. We appreciate that our teachers work hard and parents stay involved in their children’s education. In Battle Ground, 82 percent of our students attend regularly, which is defined as being present for at least 90 percent of school days or missing fewer than an average of two per month. We know that we can’t help students who aren’t showing up to school, so again, we appreciate our parents’ support in this area.
We have much that we are working on in your Battle Ground Schools, and with support from our parents and community, we believe we will receive report cards that show progress and success for all of our students.