The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

Give Me Your Opinion

on February 5, 2017

Why, you may wonder, am I posting two days in a row.  Because something interesting happened today and I want your opinions.  Below are two letters published in the Sunday “Oregonian”, presented here in the same order as in the newspaper. Both refer to an article published last Tuesday and that I wrote about here on Wednesday.

The article about Oregon City High school was the best description of a successful school I’ve ever seen.  Instead of just heralding the school’s high 2016 graduation rate, the article described at length the principal’s and teachers’ recent efforts to motivate and support all students.  It also included several student quotes showing their appreciation of teachers’ efforts and their new positive feelings about school.  In covering both the teachers’ and the students’ views, the article did an excellent job of helping readers to understand how a school’s actions can make a big difference in student performance.

For far too long, media all over the U.S. have fed the public a story about our failing schools, highlighting their low test scores and graduation rates without looking into why those things were happening or how they might be changed. I applaud Betsy Hammond and The Oregonian/Oregon Live for showing us how at least one school has found its way to producing student success.

Joanne Yatvin


Regarding the article about the principal addressing the staff at Oregon City High School where the staff were told that they had “given” over 1000 F’s (“Oregon school school success story; How Oregon City High got 94 percent of students to graduation),” January 31).  I would prefer to think that over 1000 students earned failing marks.  After teaching for more than 30 years, I can tell you that pressure by parents, counselors, and administration for teachers to pass students or to give them  A’s is plentiful. Just showing up to class is no reason to pass.  Did the student actually learn something?

David Fletcher

4 responses to “Give Me Your Opinion

  1. Joan Kramer says:

    It seems to me that the second letter missed the whole point of the article! Whether or not the students deserved their grades is not as important as what the school did to help the students succeed. Perhaps this teacher has a well of bitterness from his own experience that he has yet to resolve. I would hope others took away all the great ideas that schools can do to help students!


  2. Mike Caputo says:

    I’ve read too many Betsy Hammond articles to not think, “what did she leave out”. I had the same feeling this time. The things Oregon City is doing don’t seem that unique to area high schools. I’ll cut and paste the last comment that was posted on the original article. It needs an answer.

    “I would like to believe this is a success story. Perhaps someone from Oregon City can explain my misgivings.

    I looked on their website for how they grade and it shows a 4.0 scale. A D- translates to a 1.0 on the scale. From my understanding, that means a student can pass a class with a 25%. That’s a pretty low bar. In Beaverton, it’s 40%. If the statistic is correct, I don’t see such a rosy outlook for the graduates.”


  3. Gary R Hargett says:

    I agree with Joan Kramer. David Fletcher missed the point, and in fact contradicted himself. He complained about pressure to give A’s in the context of 1000 F grades. It doesn’t matter whether the teachers “gave” Fs or students “earned” them. The point is, many students failed, and the principal invited the staff to find out why and do something about it. (By the way, 1000 Fs does not necessarily equate to 1000 students. Some students may have received multiple Fs.)


  4. Don Bellairs says:

    I remember a dozen years ago teaching at the largest high school in the Portland area at the time–Westview High in the Beaverton School district–where the principal just told his staff not to fail seniors. Simple as that. That was how they kept their numbers up. I can’t imagine it is much different in other area schools.


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