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8/17/2007 1:59:00 PM
Superintendent’s Update #217

1. Castillo: State to Adjust Some Math, Reading Scores to Correct for Paper-and-Pencil Testing

2. Record Number of Oregon Students Take the ACT College Entrance Exam, Scores Exceed National Average

3. Oregon’s Free/Reduced School Lunch Income Guidelines for 2007-08

4. What You Can Find on the Oregon Department of Education Website

5. Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools

6. Susan’s Schedule

The August 2007 Issue PDF of Superintendent's Pipeline is available on the ODE website: http://www.ode.state.or.us/pipeline/august-pipeline-07.pdf PDF

1. Castillo: State to Adjust Some Math and Reading Scores to Correct for Paper-and-Pencil Testing

State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo released the following statement re: Oregon state test scores in math and reading:

Last March, the state’s online testing system, TESA, came to an abrupt halt because of a breach of contract by our testing contractor. As a result, students throughout Oregon had to go back to paper-and-pencil tests in order to meet the requirements of state and federal law. In order to help schools complete testing during the month of May, the state Assessment Advisory Committee recommended that we use a relatively short test that could be given in a single class period. This emergency paper-and-pencil testing created tremendous pressure and hardship on students, teachers and schools. We heard from school districts across the state, concerned that having to go back to paper-and-pencil testing, especially under these conditions, would have the effect of artificially reducing students’ scores.

We immediately contacted the US Department of Education to inform them of our concerns. In fact, I met personally with Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and other officials in Washington, D.C., and we have kept them updated throughout the summer.

We have now received the 2006-07 assessment scores, and my staff has conducted an analysis and reviewed the preliminary data with our Technical Advisory Committee, a panel of national assessment experts.

Here’s where it gets technical. We found that the paper-and-pencil math tests at grades 3, 6 and 10 and reading tests at grades 5 and 8 did not have scale scores that matched the cut points established for the “meets” standard. In order to be designated as meeting the standard, approximately 8900 out of 580,000 students would have had to achieve a score that was actually higher than the standard. For example, students taking the emergency paper-and-pencil 3rd grade math test could earn a 204 or a 206, but the cut score is a 205. The other nine grades in mathematics and reading were not affected because the available scores matched the cut scores exactly.

Oregon’s Technical Advisory Committee has recommended that in order to ensure fairness to students, the Department should give students the benefit of the doubt if the paper-and-pencil test did not allow them to obtain the exact scale score that meets the cut score. The result is that between 4% and 6% more students will “meet” the standard on these tests.

In summary, we will make a one-point adjustment in test scores for a small number of students, less than 2% of the total, in order to correct an error in the test. This year, we will be back online with TESA and a new testing contractor, and I am confident that we will be able to put this episode far behind us. I am proud of the hard work of Oregon’s students and classroom teachers, and I will continue to do everything I can to ensure their achievement is reflected fairly and accurately.

2. Record Number of Oregon Students Take the ACT College Entrance Exam, Scores Exceed National Average

More Oregon high school seniors than ever before took the college entrance test administered by the American College Testing Program (ACT). The state’s 2007 graduates earned an average ACT composite score of 22.0, compared to the national average of 21.2. The ACT is made up of four exams in English, reading, mathematics and science. Oregon students scored above the national average in all four areas of the ACT exam. Among Oregon’s graduates, 71 percent met the English benchmark (compared to 69 percent nationally), 52 percent met the math benchmark (compared to 43 percent nationally), 59 percent met the reading benchmark (compared to 53 percent nationally), and 33 percent met the science benchmark (compared to 28 percent nationally).

“Oregon’s ACT results very clearly show the benefit of taking a rigorous core curriculum,” Castillo said. “Students who have taken four years of English and three years of math and science are very well-prepared for college and work, and they averaged 3 points higher on the ACT exam.”

“These results reinforce our work to increase requirements for the Oregon high school diploma, which demand four years of English and three years of high-level math and science for all students,” Castillo said. “Every student needs a rigorous high school course of study in order to be prepared for school, work and life in the 21st century.”

The number of Oregon students taking the ACT grew significantly this year: 6,401 took the ACT at some point in their high school career – and increase of 45 percent from 2006. This represents 18 percent of the state’s graduates, compared to 13 percent last year. Nationally, more than 1.3 million students took the ACT. Oregon’s average score was down slightly from last year’s score of 22.4; the decline was likely due to the increased number of students taking the test, according to ACT officials. It is not unusual to for scores to drop when the pool of test-takers expands dramatically.

“The ACT results also highlight the achievement gap in high school preparation,” Castillo said. “White students scored an average of 22.6 on the exam, while other students scored much lower – 16.7 for African Americans and 17.3 for Hispanics. We have more work to do if we’re going to prepare all students for success after high school.”

3. Oregon’s Free/Reduced School Lunch Income Guidelines for 2007-08

State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo has announced the policy for free and reduced price meals for students in schools operating the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs and for free milk in schools offering free milk through the Special Milk Program. Free and reduced price meals are available for students unable to pay the full price for meals. Some schools that do not offer the National School Lunch or Breakfast Programs may offer free milk to eligible students. Eligibility is determined by household size and income. In some cases, foster children are eligible for benefits regardless of household income. Qualifying students receive meals or milk without charge or may pay a reduced price of no more than 40 cents for lunch and 30 cents for breakfast. For more information go to: http://www.ode.state.or.us/news/releases/default.aspx?yr=2007&kw=&rid=579

4. Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools

REAL. LIFE. EXHIBIT SHOWS STUDENTS HOW TO MAKE A LIFE-CHANGING DIFFERENCE

A 25-foot tsunami wave rises precipitously to meet visitors as they enter the REAL. LIFE. exhibit. The lifelike wave, created to show the dimensions of the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, is one of many examples from Medical Teams International’s multi-sensory, experiential exhibit. The free exhibit is designed to be an educational resource for schools, families and civic organizations to learn more about international humanitarian issues, global health concerns and socio-economic topics. The walk-through exhibit enables students and other guests to powerfully experience the needs of communities affected by disaster, conflict and poverty. The REAL. LIFE. exhibit is open for tours by schools, civic groups and the public. Please make an appointment by calling Laurel Emory at 503-624-1000. The exhibit is housed at Medical Teams International Headquarters and Distribution Center, 14150 SW Milton Ct., Tigard, OR. For a virtual tour, please visit www.medicalteams.org and click on REAL. LIFE. Exhibit.

Since 1979, Medical Teams International has sent nearly 1,700 volunteer teams to some of the most impoverished and devastated areas in the world. A nonprofit Oregon-based relief organization, the agency has shipped more than $1 billion in humanitarian aid to more than 100 countries. Forbes Magazine has named Medical Teams International to its list of 10 Gold-Star charities for its efficient use of donor dollars.

5. What you can find on the Oregon Department of Education website

This weekly item highlights various features found on the Oregon Department of Education website.

Did you know The Oregon Department of Education brings training and information to educators around the state through videoconferencing and videostreaming technologies? If you are unable to attend a face-to-face videoconference workshop or to view a live video stream of the event, you can view the video on-demand series at your own convenience from your own desktop at school or at home. Go to: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/results/?id=136.

6. Susan’s Schedule

Week of August 13th – Susan Castillo attended the monthly luncheon with statewide elected officials; attended the Governor's signing of HB 2574 regarding mentoring, and met with Mickey Lansing, Commission on Children and Families Executive Director.

Week of August 20th – Susan will attend the kick-off of the John Lennon educational bus tour in Portland; meet with the Lane ESD Superintendents, interview with KKNU Radio in Eugene, meet with Jack Roberts and Pat Johnson of the West Eugene Wetlands Education Center; and attend the State Board of Education retreat in Salem.

o For scheduling inquires, please visit our website at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?=848

o Please forward this UPDATE to others who might find it of interest.

If you would like to be added to this list or if you would like to unsubscribe, please email Public Affairs Manager Jennifer Williamson: jennifer.williamson@state.or.us eMail.
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