Silverton, Mount Angel schools focus on equity gaps

March 2023 Posted in School

By Stephen Floyd

School districts in Silverton and Mount Angel have identified racial and cultural inequity as areas that need greater focus, based on student performance rates published by the state last year.

On Oct. 20, 2022, the Oregon Department of Education released its At-A-Glance reports, breaking down enrollment, test scores and other metrics for individual schools and districts.

In the Silver Falls School District, students performed above the state average in third-grade English with 50 percent meeting expectations, and eighth grade math at 34 percent. They also had exceptional numbers for twelfth graders expected to graduate on time, with 93 percent compared to 81 percent statewide.

Superintendent Scott Drue said the numbers that stood out to him related to student performance within specific demographics. During a Nov. 28, 2022, workshop of the SFSD Board, he noted Latinx eighth graders had a 10 percent performance rate in math compared to 37 percent for their white classmates, 25 percent in third grade English compared to 55 percent for white students, and 86 percent of Latinx twelfth graders were expected to graduate on time.

“Color of skin seems to be a determinant in performance,” said Drue.

He called student equity a “major civil rights issue” and said the district has the tools to help close performance gaps. He said one way would be to develop clear expectations for students at the classroom level and communicate a clear purpose in instruction.

“It’s not OK to just say, ‘I taught it, they should have got it,” said Drue.

Down the highway in Mount Angel, officials saw a similar need to address performance gaps.

Overall, the district was slightly below the state average for English and math, at 39 percent and 27 percent, respectively. They were above the statewide average for credits earned by ninth graders at 84 percent, and below the average of twelfth graders expected to graduate at 77 percent.

Less than 5 percent of Latinx students met expectations for eighth grade math and 22 percent for third grade English, while 79 percent of Latinx freshmen were completing credits on time. An exception to this gap was the twelfth-grade progress toward graduation, with 83 percent of Latinx students on track to graduate compared to 73 percent of white classmates.

During a report to the MASD Board Nov. 14, 2022, Superintendent Rachel Stucky said these gaps were similar to pre-COVID numbers and reflect a historical trend in Mount Angel.

The board had identified long-standing achievement gaps as a policy priority during its Aug. 8, 2022 meeting. It is pursuing solutions that include parent focus groups, an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and regular community listening sessions.

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