In any transition year in which the state’s standards and/or tests change, it is difficult to make meaningful comparisons with the results on those tests from previous years. Comparisons within the year can be meaningful, such as the fact that the percentage of students in Oak Ridge Schools that were at or above proficiency is higher than the state average on nearly every test administered; or that the state said that “strong gains” were made on the high school tests, and our data shows that ORS continues to far outperform the state on every high school End of Course examination.
That being said, ORS did find areas for growth and also celebration within our results. Our overall student population did not achieve as highly as we had hoped. However, we did see significant increases in some of our subgroups. In fact, ORS closed the achievement gap in 10 of the 16 areas monitored by the state. For instance, our English Language Learners had a nearly 8 percent increase in the number of students who were proficient on the state’s mathematics examination.
So what do we do when the state changes the standards and tests? Is there a way that we can continue to monitor our progress to ensure the success of our students? Yes! We can look to the measures that we know indicate the success of our students—ORS Seven Keys to College and Career Readiness. These Keys were developed collaboratively with the community and focus on the steps needed to prepare students for the rigors of life after high school. In our Keys, we see positive gains on the majority of measures.
- Last year’s graduating class took 1,417 Advanced Placement courses while at Oak Ridge High School. That’s more than four classes per graduate.
- Three out of four of our 2014 graduates took an Advanced Placement course, Dual Enrollment course, or an industry certification.
- 111 of our high schoolstudentswere named to the AP Scholars list.
- 45 AP Scholars—students had to score a three or higher on three or more AP examinations.
- 19 AP Scholars with Honors—students averaged at least 3.25 on all exams and had a score of three or higher on four or more AP examinations.
- 47 AP Scholars with Distinction—students had to average at least 3.5 on all exams and score three or higher on five or more exams.
- 12 National AP Scholars—students had to average at least a four on all exams and score a four or higher on eight or more AP exams.
- ORHS administered 81 more AP exams in 2014 than they did in 2013, a 12.7 percent increase over the previous year.
- 41.4 percent of last year’s eighth-graders met the College Readiness Benchmarks on all four portions of the EXPLORE examination. Typically, the national average is 10-15 percent. Our results were:
- an increase of 8 percent over the previous year,
- an increase of 13 percent over the previous two years, and
- the highest percentage as far back as we have data, since 2008.
I am proud of our teachers and students for the great work that they committed to last school year. Oak Ridge is a district of excellence, and we continue to set a high bar for achievement based on our Seven Keys to College and Career Readiness. I am a believer in constantly looking at our results and making improvements based on those results. I am very pleased that we made gains on the majority of our Seven Keys to College and Career Readiness.
Bruce Borchers is superintendent of Oak Ridge Schools.