Oregon Designates "Model" Schools in New Report Card

, Posted: Thu, October 10 2013 at 6:27 PM, Updated: Fri, October 11 2013 at 10:18 AM

Numerous schools with high poverty rates in Southern Oregon are overcoming the odds. A handful of them got recognized as "model schools" in this year's State of Oregon report card. It measures student and school success.

The kids and their teachers at Talent Elementary have a lot
to be proud of.

"We found out from the state today that we are identified as a model level five school," began Principal Curt Shenk.

"Our level five is top 10% in the state."

The report card features levels one through five with five being "above average."

As for the "model" part, Talent Elementary along with John Muir Elementary in Ashland, Lorna Byrne Middle School in Cave Junction and Sams Valley Elementary in Central Point performed in the top 5% among the schools statewide with high poverty levels.

It's a big accomplishment for Talent Elementary where almost 70% of students reportedly qualify for free or reduced lunch.

"We've got a lot of poverty students [...] But they come here and they're supported and they feel valued," said Shenk.

He said about seven years ago, teams of teachers from different schools started working together.

"They started identifying what the needs were of students and so it really started us focusing on the individual students."

On Thursday afternoon, we saw teachers in the library taking time out of their day to learn new skills in order to teach more effectively.

"We're taking time out of our classroom to really try some new ideas," said 4th grade teacher at Talent Elementary, Jeff Westergaard. 

The teachers were learning ways to make sure their students actually understand what they're being taught.

It's that kind of effort and constant individual attention coupled with the state's new focus on growth, that staff say is responsible for their school and student success.

While the school does not have the highest success rate on academic achievement and they don't have the highest percentage of students reaching the OAKS state test bench mark,the new report card model bases 50% on the growth of students.

Other schools in the Phoenix-Talent School District did not score as well as Talent Elementary. The principal says that's because they started their new teaching method seven years ago to kindergartners. So those students are just getting into middle school.

He said he's confident the results for the rest of the district will improve more next year.

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