In This Issue:
- English As a Proficient Language
- Corbett Middle School Honored as a “School to Watch”
- Oregon Diploma Talk
- Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools
- Susan’s Schedule
As a Proficient Language More non-native
students in Oregon are succeeding after the state goes to a new teaching
Excerpt by Betsy Hammond, The Oregonian (Thursday, March 6, 2008)
Oregon schools have dramatically
changed the way they teach English to non-native speakers over the past
two years, and the new methods are paying off with more students reaching
proficiency, new state figures show. Across the state, nearly
9,000 students passed the state English exam in 2006-07, demonstrating
they had reached fluency in reading, writing and speaking English, the new
report shows. Fewer than 4,000 students reached full proficiency the year
before, according to state figures. More than 62,000 students in Oregon
are learning English as a second language, up from 45,000 five years ago.
The state report, released Wednesday, shows that more than half of
students who were taught English as a second language for at least a full
year advanced one point or more on the state's five-point English
proficiency scale. The state had expected 35 percent of students would
progress that much.
Educators chalk up the improved results to a
new way of teaching that has swept Oregon ESL classrooms in the past
couple of years. Schools have begun explicitly teaching the grammar, rules
and structure of English. And they are doing it in a carefully ordered
way, making sure that students don't miss any of the building blocks of
how English verbs are conjugated, words are ordered, conversations are
expected to proceed and sentences are constructed.
"For a long
time, we just read to them and exposed them to English and figured they
would pick it up just like native speakers do," said Danelle Heikkila, who
directs the English Language Learner program for Gresham-Barlow schools.
"But the state has asked us to . . . make sure that we teach them about
English, about the rules and forms and structures of English."
Along with training in the new methods, schools also received new
teaching materials, explicit state standards and tests to measure student
progress, West said. The new approach means teachers can't just choose
their own lessons but must adhere to a scope and sequence of skills to be
taught and are held more accountable for results, West said. "I haven't
heard complaints. It's more like a sigh of relief: 'Now I know what I need
to do.' "
The 2007 results mean that 39 percent of students who
had been enrolled in ESL classes for five years reached full proficiency
and were able to exit from supported English classes -- a time frame the
state says is long enough for most students, when well-taught, to master
In the past, some students graduated without ever
reaching proficiency. "To get students to where they can read, write and
speak English and go to a regular classroom to finish school is really
what an English Language Learner program is all about," said Gene Evans,
spokesman for the Oregon Department of Education.
The state's goal
is for 50 percent of students to master English fully in five years --
something 21 large Oregon school districts accomplished in 2007. They
included Hillsboro, Gresham and Centennial schools, all of which have
embraced the new approach to teaching English as a second language. Click
here for the entire article.
Middle School Honored as a
“School to Watch”
State Schools Superintendent Susan
Castillo announced that Corbett Middle School has been named Oregon’s
first and only “School to Watch.” The national award recognizes middle
schools that exhibit academic excellence, responsiveness to the unique
developmental challenges of early adolescence, social equity, and
outstanding organizational structures and processes.
“This is a tremendous
honor for Corbett Middle School,” Castillo said. “The award says a lot
about the leadership of Superintendent Robert Dunton and Principal Randy Trani.
They believe that students in middle grades can achieve at very high
levels, and they lead teams of educators who inspire young students.”
“Under Oregon’s new diploma requirements, middle schools across
the state will be looking at how they can work to prepare their students
for more rigorous coursework in high school. Corbett Middle School is a
shining example of what can be achieved,” Castillo said.
Watch was founded by the National Forum to
Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform in 1999. The National Forum is an alliance
of more than 83 educators, researchers and officers of national
associations and foundations dedicated to improving schools for young
adolescents across the country. Oregon is one of 16 participating states.
Photo: Corbett Middle
This weekly item highlights actions taken,
various questions and background relating to the new Oregon diploma.
Diploma Task Forces Up and Running
The essential skills public review survey was launched on January 29th and closed on February 22nd, over
500 Oregonians from across the state responded. A summary report will be
drafted and posted on the ODE task force website. The Essential Skills
Task Force will meet on March 11th to review and make final
recommendations on essential skills definitions.
and Assessment Task Force met in January and February to identify
assessment options and proficiency levels for the essential skills as well
as resource and professional development needs. A phase-in of the skills
with the use of existing assessments for graduates of 2012 is under
discussion. Task force recommendations will be presented to the State
Board in March. Following the Board meeting, next steps include drafting
OARs to guide implementation of essential skills (subset) for next year’s
9th graders, public review and input during March through May, a First
Reading by the Board in April, OAR Hearing in May, and OAR adoption by the
Board in June.
The first Credit for Proficiency Task Force
meeting was held on February 5th. This group will recommend statewide
criteria and guidelines for implementation of credit for proficiency
opportunities and identify resource and professional development needs.
They are reviewing the current credit for proficiency policy adopted in
2002, the work of pilot districts, and other examples in Oregon as well as
national models. The task force will meet again March 19th, April 10th and
May 8th. Opportunities for public review and input will be provided.
Recommendations will go the State Board in Fall 2008.
Capacity Task Force is analyzing the type and level of resources
required to implement the new diploma, including the capacity of districts
to obtain those resources, evaluate the barriers to successful
implementation, and estimate the costs of successful implementation. The
first meeting is March 3rd where it will consider initial work done by the
other task forces in developing estimates. Some preliminary findings based
on task force recommendations will be available by June, with final
recommendations targeted for October 2008.
Advisory Task Force, made up of a broad spectrum of educational
partners, business and community leaders, meets quarterly to advise the
State Board. At the February 7th task force meeting members received an
update from the other task forces and provided feedback on key issues.
Click here to find more information about
the task forces on the ODE website.
If you have questions please contact Theresa
Levy , Office of Educational Improvement and Innovation, Oregon
Department of Education.
Detailed information regarding the Oregon Diploma can be found
Opportunities and Financial Resources for
CAREER RESOURCES FOR
Correction: Last week's
contact info for this announcement was incorrect. Please see corrected
Career Aware I and II, produced by the
Oregon Employment Department, help elementary children explore careers.
The activities in these workbooks are intended to be fun and challenging.
Specific objectives of the workbooks include the concept of
self-knowledge, the development of a basic understanding of interests,
likes and dislikes and how to interact with others. The various activities
are also designed to raise awareness of the relationship between work and
learning, the awareness of how work relates to the needs and functions of
society and the interrelationship of life roles. To print a copy of Career
Aware I and Career Aware II, visit the Oregon
Employment Department’s site- click on
"Careers" on the left hand side. Then scroll down until you see a red box
titled "Career Aware" on the right-hand side. Or you can contact Brenda
Turner , 503-947-1233, to request a reproducible hard copy.
ELEMENTARY SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COMPETITION
statewide science and technology competition to foster science and
technology education and innovation invites elementary school students in
grades 4th, 5th and 6th to participate in county fairs and the Oregon
State Fair in August 2008. The elementary grade competition is a
derivative of the current competition guidelines developed by Intel Northwest Science
Expo (NWSE). The guidelines set forth by Intel
NWSE were selected due to the familiarity and program awareness by the
Science Teachers Association (OSTA). A few of
the categories were removed from the Middle School Rule Booklet to
accommodate a younger audience. More
information is available through your local 4-H Extension Office or
through the Oregon State Fair. Click here for the guidelines and forms.
SUPERINTENDENT'S YOUTH ADVISORY TEAM SEEKING NEW MEMBERS
Superintendent Castillo’s Youth Advisory Team, a diverse group of
Oregon students who play an active role in changing and improving public
education in the state, is seeking new members. Superintendent Susan
Castillo meets with the team 5 times a year to address specific
educational concerns. The Superintendent is currently looking for 6 to 10
new members for the team. Preference will be given to 11th and 12th
graders, but 8th grade through college freshmen are allowed to apply.
Members must be ready to take on the challenge of advising the
Superintendent of Public Instruction based on their experiences in the
public school system. The team’s recommendations are considered by the
Superintendent and forwarded on to legislators, state board members and
other education policy makers, often resulting in key policy
implementations. Superintendent Castillo embraces the idea of giving
students a way to voice their concerns about Oregon’s educational future.
Past members have spoken highly of their experience on the team. Members
must attend eight quarterly meetings in Salem over a two-year period, and
should have an interest in using their personal experiences to advise the
Superintendent and other state leaders, students, educators, and community
members. Students who will be seniors next year will only be asked to
attend one year of meetings, however, for anyone else it is a two-year
requirement. There are 4 to 5 meetings a year.
Please see application materials on the
Department of Education’s Website. Applications are due by May 2,
more information, contact Diane
Roth at the Oregon Department of Education, 503-947-5791.
Week of March 3rd – Susan Castillo met with
Yoshikai Elementary students on their State Capitol visit for Read Across
America Day; spoke at the Oregon Indian Education Association Annual
Conference in Grand Ronde; met with the State Advisory Council for Special
Education; spoke to the State Board of Higher Education on the Oregon
Diploma; and attended the OEA-PIE Convention.
Week of March 10th – Susan will participate
in a Council of Chief State School Officer’s Board of Directors meeting;
meet with the Statesman Journal’s editorial board on the Oregon Diploma;
attend a monthly luncheon with statewide elected officials; meet with the
District Superintendents of the Harvard Executive Leadership Program for
Educators; attend the March State Board of Education meeting; have dinner
with the State Board of Education; receive the State Interagency
Coordinating Council's annual report; and attend the Unified Education
Enterprise committee meeting of the Joint Boards of Education.
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