|Superintendent's Update #317|
Superintendent Castillo's bi-weekly updates provide an agency-wide perspective on important developments within the Department of Education. Through these regular updates, the Superintendent hopes to increase communications regarding important initiatives for Oregon's children. Past issues of Superintendent’s Update can be accessed at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/results/?id=364
In This Issue:
Engaging Students in Science with Hands-on ExperiencesBy Susan Castillo
The best way to really learn science is to actually do science.
A sophisticated weather tracking station on the school roof where students can be their own junior meteorologists. A scientific study of wildlife in a local park. A student team in which participants design and build their own robots. A greenhouse in which students work the soil and gain a hands-on understanding of sustainable agriculture. All of these are examples of hands-on activities designed to engage kids in science.
As we gear up new high school science requirements for the Oregon Diploma, Intel is doing its part to support science education in Oregon's schools. Recently, 10 schools across the state, ranging from elementary to high school, received Intel Science Stimulus grants of up to $5,000 to support innovative projects designed to engage students in scientific inquiry. The funds pay for everything from program start-ups to equipment and supplies.
According to Aubrey Clark, Intel’s Education Relations Manager, “At Intel, we believe that innovation begins with education. In that context, these dollars are much more than grants. They are investments in Oregon’s children to help them drive change and succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy.”
The assistance is timely because beginning with Oregon's graduating Class of 2012, high school science credits required for graduation will increase from 2 to 3. But what we are doing is about much more than just bumping up requirements. High school science courses must be inquiry-based, and that at least two of those credits must include laboratory or field-based experiences integrated into the coursework.
I want to thank Intel for its commitment to our schools. The examples noted above (from David Douglas High School, South Salem High School, Liberty High School in Hillsboro, and South Medford High School, respectively) are just some examples of the Intel-funded initiatives. But I don't want to give the impression that this is all about high schools. Intel is investing in younger students, too. Cannon Beach Elementary, another recipient of an Intel grant, is a terrific example. The school applied to create an after-school science club in which students will be introduced to hands-on, inquiry-based science.
About half of the school's 115 students come from disadvantaged families who cannot always afford enrichment activities, according to 4th grade teacher Jenny Wheatley. The school club will engage students in projects ranging from earth science to outer space, all with a special focus on inquiry. Intel's support means this small school with limited resources can buy test tubes, safety goggles and materials for students to use in experiments.
The science club will introduce students to the "wonders of science," Wheatley says, preparing them for rigorous science courses when they reach high school and "nurturing a new crop of young scientists."
Cannon Beach's plan hits home for several reasons. The first is that they're starting early, getting young children excited about science. I also appreciate that the grant aims at equity and erasing the achievement gap that impacts our disadvantaged students. And lastly, I love that the teacher is so geared up about educating the scientists of the future. As the U.S. faces ever-increasing global competition in science, engineering, and math, that's the kind of school spirit we need to keep going forward.
Again, many thanks go to Intel. Cannon Beach Elementary was one of 220 schools that submitted applications. The other winners were: Gresham High School; Liberty High School in Hillsboro; Rosemary Anderson and David Douglas High school in Portland; Sweet Home Elementary School; Medford High School; REALM charter school in Bend; South Salem High School; and Dufur School.
PHOTO CAPTION: Students at Rosemary Anderson High School in Portland celebrate receiving their Intel Science Stimulus check
Celebrating School-based Health CentersBy Susan Castillo
A child who isn't healthy isn't ready to give his or her maximum effort in the classroom. That's why I appreciate the work that Oregon's school-based health centers are doing to provide accessible, affordable health care to thousands of our students. February has been declared "School-Based Health Center Awareness Month" in our state. These centers are helping children and families in a myriad of ways every day.
There are 55 of these health centers on school campuses across Oregon, and combined they served nearly 21,000 students in the 2007-8 school year. With funding from the federal government as well as local communities, these centers are able to provide services ranging from stitching up a cut suffered in a playground injury, to prescribing antibiotics for an ear infection, to providing mental health counseling. They also provide routine care such as sports physicals and immunizations. Part of the beauty of these school-based health centers is that each is run differently, reflecting the needs of their own communities.
The centers are operated under the auspices of the Oregon Health Division, but they work closely with our 220 school nurses. In fact, I'd say that the partnership between schools and these centers is the key to their success. Many times it is the school nurses who refer patients and issues to the health center. By working together, they are better able to make sure the needs of their students are met.
St. Helen’s School District Nurse, Robin Loper, played a vital role in founding the Sacagawea Health Center. More than a decade ago, she saw an urgent need in the community, where many families lacked access to health care. Working with the Northwest Health Foundation, Legacy Health Systems, and the St. Helens School District, the center opened next door to the school in 2000.
This year, Sacagawea celebrates its 10th anniversary, helping hundreds of kids in the surrounding community stay healthy for minimal cost.
As one of the two St. Helen’s School District nurses, Robin works closely with the practitioners at the Sacagawea Health Center. "We work as a team," she says.
How does access to school-based health care impact academics? First off, I think it is obvious that if students are healthier they will not only miss school less frequently, but they also will be better prepared to do their schoolwork. And when they do get sick, there is access to prompt medical care right on their school campus. The mental health services are a huge help, too, with students who may be able to use these services as they work to address various problems.
"It's just like having a doctor's office in our school," Loper says. "It's a huge safety net for families, and it helps to improve the health of the community."
All Oregon Children Now Have Access to Health Care under Healthy Kids Plan
Last week, Governor Kulongoski announced that all Oregon children now have access to comprehensive health care under the state's Healthy Kids plan.
Healthy Kids was passed by the legislature during the 2009 session and has been implemented in phases over the last six months. This week, the Oregon Department of Human Services began providing coverage to families under Healthy KidsConnect, the final phase of Healthy Kids.
Healthy Kids provides access to health care in three ways: 1) No-cost option through the Oregon Health Plan (OHP); 2) Low-cost options through cost-share models; and 3) Full-cost options through newly-created state-sponsored private insurance plans - depending on family income.
No Cost: The plan provides free coverage through the Oregon Health Plan for children in families with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($44,100 for a family of four).
Low-Cost: The program offers a cost-share model to assist Oregon's middle-class families earning between 200 -300 percent of the federal poverty level (between $44,100 - $66,000 a year for a family of four). These families earn too much to qualify for the Oregon Health Plan, but too little to purchase private insurance on their own. On a sliding scale, these families share the cost with the state or can receive a subsidy to help pay for their child's coverage through an employer-sponsored insurance plan.
Full Cost: For children in families with incomes above 300 percent of the federal poverty level (or $66,000 for a family of four), the program provides access to a new state-sponsored private insurance plans collectively called Healthy KidsConnect. These families pay the full premium.
To date, the state has enrolled more than 30,000 children in Healthy Kids. The goal is to enroll 80,000 children by the end of this year.
Parents can learn more about Healthy Kids and apply online at www.oregonhealthykids.gov
Oregon Diploma Talk
This bi-weekly item highlights actions taken, various questions, and background relating to the Oregon diploma.
Modified Diploma and the Essential Skills
At their December meeting, the State Board of Education adopted OAR 581-022-0615: Assessment of the Essential Skills. This permanently adopts the revisions to the OAR made this last summer and reflects the revised phase-in timeline for the Essential Skills. This rule revision also elaborates on the Essential Skills requirements for students meeting the eligibility requirements for a modified diploma.
The revisions to OAR 581-022-0615 clarify that, while students seeking a modified diploma must meet the Essential Skills requirements, school districts and public charter schools may modify certain assessment options adopted by the State Board for these students. For more details and an FAQ please visit the ODE website.
Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools
New streamlined Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The 2010-11 FAFSA-on-the-Web has been redesigned to be shorter, simpler, and more user-friendly. Questions are now asked only if relevant to the applicant; low-income students, for example, are no longer asked for asset information, and only returning students are asked about prior drug convictions because the question does not apply to first-year students. Also, immediately after submitting the FAFSA, applicants will now receive a confirmation email message which indicates Pell Grant eligibility and links to information about the schools they are applying to, such as graduation and transfer rates, and a detailed breakdown of costs and expected expenses associated with the schools.
Later this month, those applying for aid in the spring semester using the 2009-10 FAFSA will be able to retrieve and import their tax data from the Internal Revenue Services (IRS). And, in summer 2010, those applying for aid in the 2010-11 year will also be able to access the IRS web site to retrieve income information to complete the FAFSA.
See more information about how the 2010-11 FAFSA is simpler, shorter, and more user-friendly.
World Language Teachers Workshop — Save the Date: March 5, 2010
The Business Education Compact (BEC), a long-standing sponsor of teacher training workshops, will host its first world languages teacher training workshop on a proficiency-based approach on March 5, 2010. Location TBD; more information will be forthcoming. Please note that workshop enrollment capacity will be capped.
Pilot programs that currently implement a proficiency-based approach in world languages (and other subjects) are seeing dramatically positive differences in student performance. As these models continue to develop and results improve distinctly over conventional approaches, a proficiency-based approach is certain to spread as a best practice. Please consider investing in this opportunity to join a network of world language teachers who have already enjoyed great success with a proficiency-based approach.
For more information please contact: Scott Mattoon, University of Oregon, 541-346-0567, or go to: http://casls.uoregon.edu/roadmap
Youth Silent Film Festival
The Youth Silent Film Festival (YSFF) will be a sanctioned event at the 2010 Portland Rose Festival. The competition is open to all Portland area filmmakers aged 20 years or younger as of June 15, 2010. Young filmmakers will have the opportunity to create a modern version of a silent film, see it on the “big screen” with live musical accompaniment, and win cash prizes. Submissions must be three minutes in length, use pre-recorded music that will be supplied by the festival organizers, be family-friendly/appropriate for viewers of all ages, and use only original footage and no copyrighted material. An Awards Celebration and screening of the Rose Festival’s own “From One Rose” will take place at the Hollywood Theatre on June 12th, 2010. Screening of the top 60 finalists will be held on June 6, 7, 8, and 9 at the Hollywood Theatre. There is no entry fee required to participate in the competition, and the deadline for submission of final films is May 1, 2010.
For more information, complete guidelines and submission form, go to http://www.makesilentfilm.com/; contact the organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Week of February 8 – Superintendent Castillo met with the Statewide Elected Officials over lunch, and met with State Representative Carolyn Tomei.
Week of February 15 – No public events scheduled at time of publication.
Week of February 22 – Susan met with US Representative Kurt Schrader, and will speak at the Annual Charter School Conference in Salem.
For scheduling inquires, please visit our website at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?=848
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