The Jefferson County Education Council is trying to encourage a college-going culture locally, and Oregon's new 40-40-20 education strategy may be a boost toward that goal.
In 2011, Oregon's Senate Bill 253 established state education goals that by 2025 in Oregon:
. 40 percent of adults would have a bachelor's degree or higher.
. 40 percent of adults would have an associate's degree, or post-secondary credential.
. 20 percent of adults would have a high school diploma or the equivalent (GED).
Also, an Oregon Education Investment board was formed to oversee the creation of a unified public education system, from preschool through college.
Under the new system, all school districts, education service districts, community colleges and public universities had to develop "achievement compacts" to set educational targets aimed at student success.
Oregon's new system allowed it to obtain a waiver from federal No Child Left Behind Act rules, and to replace them with more accurate measures of schools' success. It also encouraged educators at all levels to work together sharing successful programs, and being innovative.
At the Oct. 11 Jefferson County Education Committee meeting, representatives from Madras and Culver schools, businesses, COCC, and the community came together to network and share updates on their 40-40-20 plans.
Madras High School Principal Sarah Braman-Smith reported that all freshmen take a "Success 111" class, sophomores are required to do eight hours of volunteer work, juniors must do a job shadow, and seniors give a report on educational portfolios they create on a website throughout high school.
COCC Madras campus coordinator Courtney Snead noted that the goal by 2025 was to have 100 percent of Oregon's population graduating from high school.
Currently in Jefferson County, 15.8 percent of the people have a bachelor's degree, 23.7 percent have an associate's degree, and 73 percent of freshmen graduate from high school.
"That means, in Jefferson County, 27 percent are not graduating from high school," Snead said.
"The achievement compacts hold us to a measure and to be accountable," she said, noting state school funding is also changing. "Now, we're funded on the number of students in seats, but are looking at funding by student success (transferring students on to a university)," she added.
Melinda Boyle, 509-J district director of instruction, talked about the new requirement that high school students graduate with nine college credits to ensure college readiness.
Boyle said MHS was targeting dual enrollment classes (college credits earned in high school) but there was a problem with community college instructors being required to have a master's degree in the specific area of the class they were instructing. University professors did not have this requirement, she added.
"The cost of credits can also be a barrier," Snead said, noting, "It costs $15 a credit with dual enrollment, compared to $70-plus per credit at the college."
To promote a college-going attitude in the county, the Education Committee has a Career and College Readiness subcommittee which is working on several efforts.
These include "College Now" classes such as welding and speaking, dual credit opportunities, partnerships with local businesses for job shadowing, "Seeds of Science" programs for middle school students at the Central Oregon Ag Research Center, the "Juntos" college exploration program for Latino and Native American students and parents, and a "Gift of Literacy" event cohosted by the Rotary and COCC which brought hundreds of elementary students to visit the Madras COCC campus.