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Oregon revamps education

Statewide report card
A report on the overall condition of Oregon's public education system, called the "Oregon Statewide Report Card" was released Nov. 30, by Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton.
   This annual report, for the 2011-12 school year, contains key information, data, trends and demographics on Oregon's K-12 public education system.
   Oregon has obtained a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act requirements, is developing its own achievement system, and has a new administrative system. Saxton outlined the major changes.
   "Our state has set an ambitious goal -- 100 percent high school graduation by 2025 with at least 40 percent of students receiving a four-year degree and 40 percent receiving a community college or other workforce credential," said Saxton.
   "As we ask more of our schools, we must also ask more of ourselves as citizens and community members. Our schools cannot do this important work alone. My hope is that this report will help contribute to the conversations going on around the state about where we are, where we need to be, and what role we can all play to help achieve the outcomes we want and need for our students."
   The 2011-12 Statewide Report Card includes: student demographics, school staff information, test results, dropout and graduation rates, charter school data, early childhood data, alternative education information and public school funding information.
   "The education landscape in Oregon has changed significantly in the past year and will continue to change even more in the years to come," Saxton said. "In my opinion, there has never been a more exciting time to be involved in education in our state."
   ODE reorganizes
   
in 2011-12
   There have been significant changes to the education leadership at the state level this year.
   Gov. John Kitzhaber became the Superintendent of Public Instruction and appointed Rob Saxton to serve as his deputy superintendent and head up the operations and reorganization of the Oregon Department of Education.
   Gov. Kitzhaber also appointed Dr. Rudy Crew as the state's first chief education officer. Crew is charged with coordinating Oregon's education system from birth through graduate school and works with the Oregon Education Investment Board to ensure the funding of the system is aligned to key outcomes.
   NCLB waiver
   Oregon applied for, and was granted, a waiver from the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as the No Child Left Behind Act).
   This waiver provides the state with additional flexibility to build a locally designed accountability system that better meets the needs of Oregon students and schools, focusing on student growth and learning rather than solely on how many students reach federal achievement targets.
   As part of the waiver application, Oregon is developing a next generation accountability system which uses multiple measures to rate schools.
   Using this system, ODE identified a list of "Priority," "Focus," and "Model" schools this past summer. These high poverty schools have been identified as needing additional supports and interventions (Priority and Focus) or as examples of successful student outcomes (Model).
   In the 509-J District, Jefferson County Middle School, Madras High School and Warm Springs Elementary were designated as priority schools, and Buff Intermediate was listed as a focus school.
   ODE is piloting new models of teacher and administrator evaluations to ensure educators have all of the tools they need to be highly effective at their jobs.
   The department continues to move forward with implementation of the "Common Core State Standards" and prepare for the "Smarter Balanced Assessment," which will be used to assess these rigorous, national standards starting in 2014-15.
   Focus on reading
   In 2011, the State Board of Education adopted higher expectations for elementary and middle school students in reading.
   This change aligned Oregon's standards with rigorous national and international expectations. It also provides students, parents, and teachers better information on how prepared students are to meet Oregon's high school graduation requirements and graduate college and career ready.
   Seniors in 2012 were the first ones required to graduate with the "essential skill" of reading. This year's seniors will be required to demonstrate proficiency in both reading and writing with math being added on for this year's juniors.
   Oregon students continue to perform above the national average on the SAT and ACT college entrance tests, with more students taking the tests each year.
   "We are undertaking bold and substantive changes to our education system, changes which have the potential to transform how we do our work and the outcomes we see for our students," said Saxton.
   "I hope that as you explore the information in this report it will spark conversations around the past, the present, and, most importantly, the future of education in our state," he said.
   A copy of the Annual Statewide Report Card can be found on the Oregon Department of Education website at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=1821.
   (Individual report cards for the Culver and 509-J school districts were released in October).