Performance data helps Gladstone target student supports
Solutions must focus on outcomes of literacy, attendance, graduation
As the Gladstone School District processes survey, focus group, testing, and attendance data, school leaders are gaining an in-depth understanding of the needs of struggling students.
Students face challenges
“So many children in our community face barriers to success,” said Superintendent Bob Stewart. “Poverty can destabilize a family. Cultural barriers can limit opportunities. And students with disabilities may need extra help to succeed. We are hopeful added school funding will help every student fulfill their highest potential.”
This year 42% of Gladstone students are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals, and 16% of Gladstone students live below the poverty line. Until a student’s basic needs for shelter, food, clothing, and health care are met, it’s hard for them to focus on school. Many families cannot afford school supplies, sports and after school activities.
At the Gladstone Food Pantry housed at Gladstone High School, the number of families accessing free food has nearly doubled in the past year, with 65 families each week making use of the resource.
Today 28% of Gladstone students are children of color and 10% are learning English. They face the stress of exclusion in schools where the curriculum rarely reflects their cultural perspective and there are virtually no staff mentors of color. This can result in a lack of self-confidence or a lack of connections to the school community that impact academic achievement.
Currently, 13% of Gladstone students have a disability that impacts their education success. Some face learning disabilities, such as ADHD or autism. Others have chronic health issues such that impact school attendance and participation.
District aims for measurable results
As the Gladstone district prioritizes Student Support Act funds to have the biggest impacts on student wellness and achievement, their goal is to measure change on key metrics tied to student success.
School absenteeism is a problem across Oregon, with 20% of students missing more than two days each month. Over time, that adds up to more than 10% of the school year.
“Each missed school day leaves students farther behind their peers, as students develop gaps in foundational concepts they need to move forward,” said elementary principal Wendy Wilson. “We need to work to eliminate barriers to attendance, and give every student support to be there.”
At the elementary level, third grade reading comprehension is another key benchmark. That is the stage when students begin to shift from learning to read to reading to learn.
Another milestone is having high school freshmen on track for graduation by the end of 9th grade. If students have earned 25% of the credits they need to graduate, they are far more likely to earn a diploma. Graduation rate is the final measure of student success, opening doors to future options.
“We are now looking at a range of strategies to increase achievement, attendance, learning opportunities, and social-emotional health,” said Stewart. “Our plan will impact every student.”