Editorial: Delayed achievement compact deadline would help

Imagine trying to meet a report deadline that comes months before you can access critical data to make that report meaningful.

That’s the situation faced by school boards across Oregon striving to meet requirements for state achievement compacts. The deadline to report goals to the state is July 1, but relevant data don’t show up till August.

An amendment to House Bill 3075 would fix the problem by delaying the deadline to Oct. 15. Good idea.

The achievement compacts are part of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s plan to restructure education across the state. They require each education entity, such as school districts, universities, education service districts and community colleges to establish goals for specific criteria. The state selects a base set of items, and the districts can add some of their own choosing.

When the K-12 compacts were first unveiled last year, we found them short on academic measures, which were limited to third grade math and reading. Other categories focused on attendance, ninth-grade credits earned, graduation rates and college credits earned during high school, among others.

In the revisions for the second year, we were pleased to see the addition of math scores from fifth and eighth grades, although more attention to academics is still needed, especially at the high school level.

But whatever the items measured, districts were left to guess based on severely outdated information, because they had to set their goals before the current year’s student test scores and other data were known.

If you don’t know what progress was made in one year, it’s tough to assess what you can achieve in the next.

The result was time wasted on goal-setting that couldn’t be meaningful, only to file reports that have yet to prove their value. The delayed deadline proposed in HB 3075 can help address at least one of the flaws.