The Baker School District’s 2018-19 report card issued recently is again skewed by scores from students across the state who attend Baker Charter Schools.
Assistant Superintendent Betty Palmer said in a recent interview that on the whole, students in Baker’s brick-and-mortar schools are showing progress as reflected in the details of the report cards.
The scores (about one-third of the total), though, are affected by those of students who live throughout the state and attend the Baker Web Academy.
Here is one example of how the overall statistics are affected: The Oregon At-A-Glance District Profile shows that the percentage of Baker District ninth-graders who are on-track to graduate (students earning one-fourth of their graduation credits their ninth-grade year), is down 2% from a year earlier. Overall, the district shows an on-track to graduate rate of 71% in the new report.
Yet, at Baker High School, the on-track rate is up 2% from a year ago, to 85%, which is on par with the statewide average.
At Baker Web Academy, however, the percentage is at 62%, down 6% from a year earlier.
Statistics in that category were not available for Baker Early College because of the small number of students participating.
The Baker School District’s At-A-Glance Profile also shows that all third-graders’ test scores are up 1% from a year ago and hit the Oregon average of 47% meeting benchmark goals.
Individual student progress for students in Grades 3-8 is in the average range as well, the report states.
Districtwide, the percentage of eighth-graders meeting state grade-level expectations in mathematics is at 30 percent, a 3% decrease from the previous year and 9% lower than the Oregon average.
Baker Middle School eighth-graders’ scores were down 3% from the previous year to 36%, below the Oregon average of 39%, another reflection of the impact the Web Academy scores have on the District report.
BMS English language arts scores remained unchanged at 53% of the students meeting benchmarks. The Oregon average is 55%.
Brooklyn Primary School, which serves students in kindergarten through third grade, shows a rate of 74% of its students are regular attenders. That’s a decrease of 8%, from a year ago and below the Oregon average of 80%, the report card states.
Palmer said that rate of regular attenders is a reflection of the 62% of students at Brooklyn who qualify for free and reduced-price meals.
And those lower attendance rates also result in lower student performance, she said. The report card shows 42% of the students are meeting benchmark goals in English language arts, up 2% from last year, but still below the 47% Oregon average.
Math scores are down 7% from the previous year to 37%, below the Oregon average of 47%.
“Oftentimes the community doesn’t realize how the schools are impacted by the poverty here in Baker City and Baker County,” Palmer said. “We’re doing everything we can to support kids and families.”
She said schools are continuing to reach out to parents at all levels to help ensure their children attend school regularly and are kept engaged in their education.
At Brooklyn, that sometimes means taking a school van and picking students up at their homes to get them into the classrooms, Palmer said.
At BMS, where the regular-attenders rate is at 73%, the school last year hired Briana Peppers, former school secretary, to fill the role of student-family support specialist.
At South Baker Intermediate School, where students in Grades 4-6 are enrolled, the free and reduced-price meal rate is slightly lower, at 60%. The regular-attender rate is at 86%, an increase of 1% from last year.
Individual student progress also is higher in math (up 2% from a year ago to 43%, compared to the state average of 40%). English language arts test scores are up 3% from a year ago to 49%, but still below the 53% Oregon average.
Haines and Keating elementary schools again are bright spots among the school report cards. The rate for free and reduced-price meals at those schools are 38% and 39% respectively and the regular attenders top the statewide average of 80%. Students who attended more than 90% of their enrolled school days hit 87% at Haines and greater than 95% at Keating, their At-A-Glance School Profiles show.
Another impact of the Baker Charter Schools is recognized in the District’s on-time graduation rate.
The overall District rate is at 79%, up 6% from the previous year and meeting the Oregon average.
At Baker High School, a variety of strategies have been employed, which have resulted in a 5% increase in the rate from the previous year to 84% for 2018-19.
To continue the improvement, Kati Stuchlik, a former BMS teacher who taught freshman English classes last year, was hired this year to serve as a graduation coach. Palmer said Stuchlik works alongside Adriene Oster, Future Center director, to ensure that students are making good progress toward graduation, with an eye on their goals after high school.
Eagle Cap Innovative High School has shown improvement in all areas except regular attendance. Tom Joseph, former language arts teacher, has been named director of specific secondary programs, which includes overseeing Eagle Cap.
Tracie Smith directs Eagle Cap classes and Annetta Evans, former Haines sixth-grade teacher, was hired to teach an alternative school program at Eagle Cap this year. Both programs are housed at the North Baker School Building.
The Baker Web Academy and Baker Early College will be moving from that location into the former Ellingson Lumber Co. office at 3000 Broadway St.
Palmer said the programs are designed for students who prefer a setting that is different than the traditional high school classrooms.
About half of the alternative school program students were not in school at all before the new program was developed and the other half were barely hanging on, Palmer said. The District hopes to build enrollment as the year continues to about 20 students.
“We are trying innovative things to see if we can make a difference in students’ lives,” she said.
The number of students taking the tests also is below state standards of 94.5% and that affects the overall ratings. Test participation is another area on which the District will be focusing in the coming year.
The District as a whole is working on its continuous improvement plan, a requirement by the state Department of Education for all districts to complete every three to four years, Palmer said. As part of that process educators will be looking at data and considering different viewpoints to develop a district plan for improvement for the next several years.
Eagle Cap Innovative High School and the Baker Web Academy were identified in 2017-18 under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act as schools requiring comprehensive support and improvement to better their student performance and graduation rates.
In this year’s report, Eagle Cap’s on-time graduation rate had improved 15% over the previous year to 85%, which is 6% above the Oregon average of 79%.
The on-time graduation rate at Baker Web Academy was up 10% this year to 63%, but still has a ways to go to meet the state average.
Palmer says that although progress might seem slow, it is happening as student scores, graduation rates and regular attendance goals make steady gains.
“We have good teachers, good leaders and they are working very hard together,” she said.