School performance ratings delayed until after election
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Department of Education, whose leader was chosen by Gov. Kate Brown, has decided to delay releasing its annual school performance ratings until after the high-stakes Nov. 6 election.
The statistical rankings have been in school districts' hands since Oct. 4 in preparation for an originally scheduled Oct. 25 release, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported late Tuesday.
The move comes as Brown, a Democrat, is locked in a tight race with Republican challenger Knute Buehler, who has said that Brown's failure to improve public school outcomes is his No. 1 campaign issue. Oregon has the third-worst statewide graduation rate in the nation and struggles with chronic absenteeism.
Department spokesman Marc Siegel says the release of this year's rankings was moved back to accommodate the launch of a website to fight chronic absenteeism and because it's taking longer to handle the ratings of schools who had too few students take state tests.
Christian Gaston, a Brown campaign spokesman, did not immediately return an email seeking comment Wednesday.
Buehler seized on the newspaper report and said Brown was putting her re-election campaign over the needs of the state's children, parents and teachers.
The school ratings could carry more import this year because of a new provision in federal election law added at the request of Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat.
Wyden got fellow members of Congress to agree that schools that don't manage to graduate at least two-thirds of their students in four years should be cited for poor performance and have the opportunity to receive federal improvement funds.
Oregon has a lot of schools that don't clear the two-thirds graduation bar, the newspaper reported.
Brown introduced a plan to address chronic absenteeism on Tuesday, just hours before The Oregonian/OregonLive published its article.
Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com