Compacts will guide public schools in Oregon

West Linn-Wilsonville School District 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 to go on to earn a bachelor's degree, 40 percent to earn an associate's degree and 20 percent to have earned 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, which, 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 (ESDs), 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 academic benchmarks. The federal government has set a process to grant waivers for meeting its targets to states 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 (OAKS) 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.

WL-WV administrators will look at the gap between the target and where the district is now to incrementally increase the goal each year. This year, the district is setting low targets, Jane Stickney, assistant superintendent, said, although it is not setting flat goals like many other districts.

'We feel we should probably take this a little more conservative,' Stickney said.

In the first year, some of the expected data and its sources are still unclear, so administrators want to wait until more is understood before setting more aggressive goals.

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