Sunday, March 17, 2013

How Are Hillsboro Schools Doing?

One question that has come up a few times when I explain my campaign is:  how are Hillsboro schools doing anyway?    "Your ideas sound nice, but I read the district newsletters and it sounds like the schools are doing great.   Why are you trying to fix something that's not broken?"    So I thought it might be nice to look at school ratings from a variety of sources.   Here's a quick summary of what I found:
  • State report cards:   Very coarse grained.   HSD looks pretty close to state averages overall in most categories.    Most schools Satisfactory, 9 Outstanding, 2 In Need Of Improvement.
  • School rating websites:   At School Digger  HSD ranks 61st best district in the state,  vs Beaverton at 19, Tigard-Tualatin at 26.    At GreatSchools  HSD rates 6/10, vs 7/10 for Beaverton & Tigard-Tualatin.   
  • US News High School rankings:  Liberty HS is #15 in OR / #1231 nationally.   Glencoe is 19/1569.   Century & HillHi didn't make top 25.
  • 2011 Federal Ratings:  A little more gloomy here.   6 elementary schools on "troubed" list, one other that must offer free transfers or tutoring.  All middle schools & all high school except Century also on troubled list.  Also, "Oregon high schools’ on-time graduation rate remained mired at 68 percent for the class of 2012, the same as the year before, when Oregon ranked fourth worst in the nation."
  • Voting with their feet:   How many kids have been removed from their local pubic schools by their parents?   Hard to find how many Hillsboro children attend private schools, but at one website listing this by city, we can see roughly 1000 students in the city of Hillsboro have opted out of HSD altogether to attend private schools.  (HSD is larger than that, but not easy to properly account on this page.)  We also have 140 or so kids on City View Charter's waiting list-- clearly a set of families feeling they are not best served by their local public school.   I also have trouble finding a good estimate of the number of homeschoolers in HSD.
  • Real estate agents:   This qualifies as anecdotal, but I've been told pretty universally by Intel new hires that real estate agents direct them to buy homes in the Beaverton district, rather than Hillsboro, if they have kids.
So...  what's the conclusion of all this?   We should qualify the discussion with the fact that ranking a heterogeneous group of schools is not easy.    It's hard to perfectly compare different districts:  in particular, Hillsboro likely has more challenges integrating new immigrants than the other nearby large suburban districts, which can partially explain its much lower rankings at sites based on test scores.   But as the 4th largest district in Oregon, I would really hope to see us doing better than just the 15th best high school.

I think we can say based on these data points that there is certainly room for improvement in Hillsboro's schools.   Personally, I love the city of Hillsboro (I live on Main Street, right in the heart of our downtown), and it pains me to hear new co-workers tell me they must live elsewhere for their children's education.   While there are certainly many successes and positive developments, I'd really like to see Hillsboro become a destination district where people come to live because of its top-quality school system.

No comments:

Post a Comment