PORTLAND, Ore. – After word surfaced that Oregon's Department of Education would delay the release of an education report card, the department’s director said they will release the data on time.
The reports details progress and shortcomings in the state’s public schools.
The Oregonian first reported that the education department would delay the release until after the November election. The reports were originally scheduled to be sent out October 25, and the deadline to publish the information is December 15.
While responding to the reports, department director Colt Gill said they will release the data on schedule through at-a-glance profiles and accountability details sheets. You can access the information on the department’s website.
“So the districts have had the data – the data is not what’s holding us back from releasing. What has held us back is not having all the supports in place for the districts,” said Gill.
The reports are based on graduation rates released last December and assessments published in September.
Gill said the delay is primarily over a shift from No Child Left Behind to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and a lack of support and systems in place to make that data usable for districts and communities. This is the first year the state will be releasing data under ESSA.
Gill was appointed by current Oregon Governor Kate Brown. When asked if there was political motivation behind a delay, Gill replied “no, absolutely not.”
Brown's office said the governor directed the Dept. of Education to release the reports.
“We should all remember that at the end of the day, this data is not about an election or politics. It’s about improving our schools. My top priority as Governor is to give Oregon’s students the tools they need to succeed," said Brown.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler held a conference on the delay Wednesday, shortly after Gill announced the data would be made available online.
"We need leadership more than ever from the governor, to make sure that our kids have the education that they need," Buehler said.
Governor Brown released a statement this afternoon in response to media questions regarding ODE's decision and Buehler's remarks.
“I directed the Department of Education today to release the data they have regarding annual performance measures in our schools," Brown said. "We should all remember that at the end of the day, this data is not about an election or politics. It’s about improving our schools. My top priority as Governor is to give Oregon’s students the tools they need to succeed.”
Portland State University professor Dr. Chris Shortell says he doesn't believe this will change the hearts and minds of many voters.
"At this point in the race, there are fewer and fewer undecided voters," Shortell told a KATU reporter. "For voters who have already made up their minds, they will read this news with a filter that favors their preferred candidate. For the undecideds, most already have an impression about the education system in Oregon. One additional piece of news is unlikely to dramatically change that perception. And education is only one of many issues voters are processing and considering, albeit an important one."