New achievement compacts will guide public schools in Oregon and, possibly, replace No Child Left Behind

Lake Oswego school administrators are working to do their part by setting incremental goals for meeting the state's education plan, which has a goal for 100 percent of Oregonians graduating from high school by 2025.

Of those graduates, the state is aiming to have 40 percent of Oregon adults go on to earn a bachelor's degree, 40 percent earn an associate's degree and 20 percent earn at least a high school diploma or its equivalent.

The school district must submit an annual agreement, called an "achievement compact," for 2012-2013 by July 1 to the newly created Oregon Education Investment Board, to show how it is doing its part to reach that goal.

The compacts are a part of a state education reform bill that passed this spring that, among other things, establishes a process eventually meant to distribute funding to school districts based on achievement. Achievement compacts will also be made with community colleges, educational service districts, the Oregon University System and its seven universities and Oregon Health and Science University.

Because of the short timeline this year, the compact won't be quite as comprehensive as lawmakers intend.

State lawmakers want the achievement compacts to become the measure of accountability in place of the 2001 federal No Child Left Behind act, which sets a goal of 100 percent of students meeting federally mandated achievement targets by 2014. The compacts are less aggressive than NCLB law, focusing on 100 percent high school completion rather than 100 percent meeting subject-specific academic benchmarks. The federal government has set a process to grant waivers to states for meeting its targets if a local plan is found to be a sufficient accountability measure.

While the compact ultimately addresses high school completion goals, it also has focused categories asking whether students are making adequate progress using the existing Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills to measure subject proficiency at different grade levels. Eventually local measures can be added as well.

Like the existing system, the compact will have a target number and percentage for academic goals - for the whole student body as well as various subgroups, such as English language learners, special education, low income and racial or ethnic categories.

Lake Oswego administrators have chosen to keep the goals flat this year, meaning the targets are at the percentage the district achieved last year.

"We consider a flat roll-up as maintenance of our goal and actual progress," said secondary education director Donna Atherton, explaining that the district has been able to maintain its past achievements on reduced resources. "We felt we needed ... to start someplace, and we'll be working with this more next year."

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