Oregon Public School Report Cards

New Report Card System

Oregon rolled out a new school report card system in October 2013. It not only shows parents how the test scores at their kids’ school stack up against others in the state, but it also shows how those scores compare to schools similar to theirs — regarding demographics. At a glance, you can see if your kids’ school is doing better or worse than others with similar numbers of poor children, kids with disabilities and those for whom English is a second language.

In the new construct, the progress all students make on math and reading tests is given far more weight than the number of students who meet or exceed the state standards.

The goals of the redesign were to:

  • More accurately reflect student learning and growth
  • Incorporate key measures of college and career readiness
  • Align the report card with district’s achievement compacts
  • Make the Report Cards more user-friendly and accessible

Elementary and middle schools are rated primarily by how far they helped individual students progress on state reading and math tests from year to year, with extra weight given to their progress with low-income, minority, second-language and “special ed” students. High schools are judged largely by their graduation rates and student growth on tests, again with extra weight given to their success with historically lagging groups.

Oregon released its first newly designed report cards in October 2013 after a long effort to modernize a clunky old design and comply with federal requirements for accountability. The state now uses a Level 1 through 5 rating system, designed like a modified bell curve, to grade nearly 1,200 public schools. Level 4 is the largest category, encompassing about 560 schools that are in the middle or better; Level 5 represents the exemplary top 10 percent; and Levels 1-3 represent the lagging and failing schools.

Schools are rated primarily on how much they improve individual students’ reading and math scores from year to year (“growth”) and, for high schools, their graduation rate. How many students pass state reading and math tests (“achievement”) also factors in.

In each area, they are rated as one of five levels. Level 5 = best, Level 1 = worst. Schools get extra scrutiny for the performance of a “subgroup” of their students, those who are low-income, special education, Latino, African American, Native American, Pacific Islander or learning English as a second language.

If a school does not test at least 95 percent of students in every student group, the overall rating gets lowered by one tier.

Elementary and middle school ratings are based 75 percent on student gains on state tests and 25 percent on passing rates. High school ratings are based 50 percent on graduation rates, 30 percent on student gains and just 20 percent on how many students pass state tests.

State officials also designed the rating system to give most schools one of the top two ratings. Only about 45 percent of schools can, and did, earn any of the bottom three ratings in the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years. That is partly due to a federal requirement that the worst five percent of schools get the lowest performance rating and the next ten percent of schools with the worst performance get the second-lowest rating. The Oregon Department of Education also chose not to give the middle ranking of three on a scale of 1 to 5 to any school whose performance was not clearly below average. 

For more information on the new report cards visit: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=3881.

Where to Find The Report Cards

The State of Oregon Department of Education has posted the report cards at their website.  You can view school or district report for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years at:

The Oregonian (state’s largest newspaper) at their website has an online reference guide where visitors can search by some variables to obtain test scores, federal ratings, school demographics, staffing, and finances:

Data is available by county, district or statewide in a CSV (comma separated value) format for earlier school years (starting with the 2002-2003 school year) at:

Three Major Reports

Each fall, Oregon releases three major reports on public schools:

  • Oregon school report cards
  • Student achievement on state tests in reading, writing, mathematics, and science
  • Federal Adequate Yearly Progress report required under No Child Left Behind

Of the three reports, the school report cards offer a complete look at how schools are performing because they include a more thorough review of school quality. Included in Oregon’s school report cards is information on student test performance, school improvement, school readiness, academic support, academic enrichment, rating details, etc.

The overall state rating is intended to summarize this school’s particular successes and challenges. It is based on a combination of up to five factors. Three of these factors come from standardized test scores in reading and math: student achievement, student growth, and the growth of underserved subgroups. High schools are also rated on the overall graduation rate for the school and the graduation rates of underserved subgroups.

If you would like more information on how the ratings are determined, the Oregon Department of Education has two documents available to review:

Oregon Report Card History

Oregon law (ORS 329.105) requires that the Oregon Department of Education issue performance reports for public schools.  These performance reports shall include school ratings for:

  • Statewide Assessment Results
  • Student Attendance
  • Student Dropout Rates

Report cards are released in the fall each year for the previous school year.  Report cards are issued for each Oregon school district as well as individual schools.

Over the years there have been many changes to the Oregon report card system. Oregon school report cards were first issued in January 2000 with the rating formulas and rules remaining largely unchanged during the first three years. Extensive revisions in the formula were reflected in the report cards released in January 2003. Additional changes in displays were incorporated for January 2004 to bring the report card into compliance with requirements o f the No Child Left Behind Act.

Federal vs. State Report Cards

The annual Oregon school report cards differ from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) ratings.  The state judges schools on average student performances, while the federal rating scrutinizes individual groups such as limited English, minority, and special education students.  If one of those groups doesn’t meet performance targets, the school is downgraded.

Two websites for information about NCLB:

  • For further information, visit the US Department of Education’s website at No Child Left Behind.  The site includes a “Parents Guide,” newsletter subscription, etc.
  • Learning First, a non-profit education organization, has published a document that explains the law.  This document is fairly easy to read and understand.

Portland Monthly Magazine Guide to Schools

portland_monthly_dec2007In their December issue each year, the Portland Monthly magazine reports on over 600 schools in the metro area and make what they referred to as a “crib sheet.”  The sheet gives school rankings, test scores, and statistics that will help you evaluate the schools without the need for in-depth study.

Included in the document are Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, average number of students per grade, and Oregon Statewide Assessment (OSA), etc.  They track 11 different variables.

2015-2016 School Year Report Cards

Annual report cards for Oregon schools and districts came out October 13, 2016, for the 2015-2016 school year. But it’s the second year in a row that you won’t find a key piece of information you might be expecting: an overall rating for your school.

Schools used to get a rating from one to five. But last year, Oregon got federal permission to drop those ratings, as the state shifted to Smarter Balanced exams. And this year Oregon is starting an overhaul of the report card in light of a new federal education law.  

You can find out how many elementary school students regularly show up to school, how many graduating seniors are going to college, how many 9th graders are earning enough credits to be on track to graduate on time, and how kids are doing on state tests.

There is some new information added, too. You can find out if local kids are getting vaccinated. Most Oregon schools have immunization rates of at least 95 percent. But not everywhere. Two-thirds of students at the Village School in Eugene and nearly half the students at Portland’s Southwest Charter School were missing shots.

The report cards are based almost entirely on students scores on the new Common Core tests plus, for high schools, graduation rates.

But the state mines the scores to see not just how many passed and how many fell short but how much progress individual students made from their test performance a year and two years earlier.

The idea is that schools should get credit when they help students make big strides at improving their reading, writing or math skills, even if they don’t quite get up to grade level. And, on the flip side, schools should be called out if they allow students to stagnate academically, even if they still score high.

Sites to check performance for any Oregon public School:

  • The Oregonian/OregonLive makes it easy for you to look up the performance for any public school, or all the schools in any district, to see what they did well and where they fell short.
  • The Oregon Department of Education keeps the report cards for the last four school years so you can determine trends in a school’s performance.
Source:  “Oregon Releases Report Cards For Schools, Districts.” Oregon Public BroadcastingOctober 13, 2016.

2014-2015 School Year Report Cards

Oregon issued performance reports on 1,200 schools on October 13, 2015, providing fresh insight into which schools helped their students gain the most academic ground. 

Oregon’s school report cards don’t have overall grades for local schools and districts this year. But there is new information in them.

Federal education officials allowed Oregon to drop overall ratings for this year, because of the switch last spring to new standardized tests. Lawmakers encouraged the move, in part due to the large numbers of students who opted not to take the Smarter Balanced exams.

 The report cards give a more sophisticated, more meaningful look at school performance than test scores alone because they compare each school to schools with the most similar student populations. More importantly, the report cards reveal how much each school helped its students grow academically, given where the students started a year or years earlier.

Students at Putnam High in the North Clackamas school district made huge strides in reading, writing, and math, as measured by this spring’s Smarter Balanced tests. Top performers emerged in some surprising places, from Putnam High in Milwaukie to two high-poverty heavily Latino Hillsboro middle schools. Meanwhile, some schools with historically strong test scores showed anemic growth for their students this year.

The Oregonian/OregonLive came up with an easy way to compare key overall performance metrics for each school. Color-coded, searchable online charts show at a glance how a school’s proficiency rates in English or math stacks up against that at similar schools. The online displays also show how each school’s typical student growth in reading and math last school year compares to growth for students with similar test score histories in the rest of the state.

The successes of Tigard-Tualatin’s elementary schools suggests they might have something to teach the rest of the state. David Douglas had two middle schools, Ron Russell and Alice Ott, with outstanding results. Beaverton showed strong results, from schools in its highest-income neighborhoods to schools in neighborhoods with the greatest educational challenges. 

Source:  “How did your local school measure up on Oregon’s school report cards?” by Betsy Hammond, The Oregonian/OregonLive, October 17, 2015.