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12/14/2007 7:54:00 AM
Superintendent’s Update #233
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1. Half a Kindergarten is Only Half Enough

2. New TESA System Gets High Marks from Users

3. Oregon Diploma Talk

4. Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools

5. Susan’s Schedule

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

Learn about what is new with the Oregon Diploma at http://www.getreadyoregon.org/

1. Half a kindergarten is only half enough -- The Legislature needs to chart a track to 2009

Oregonian Editorial – Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The people of Oregon clearly think full-day kindergarten is a good idea. Each year, thousands of them choose it for their children, even if they have to pay as much as $300 per month for the privilege. That's because Oregon legislators continue to insist that kindergarten in this state remains a part-time pursuit. This means many children are placed in the absurd position of attending a full-day preschool program before being forced back to half-day instruction when they enter kindergarten. Think of it as thousands of Oregon kids getting a running start on their education . . . then having their feet tied together for a year.

This may make sense to the Legislature. It makes no sense to parents. That's why, more than 10 years ago, they began demanding a solution. And why, all across the state, schools have responded by doing the best they can, offering that other half-day of kindergarten to those who could afford to pay. Many school districts, striving to be fair, used federal funds to cover this fee for low-income families.

Across the patchwork quilt that is Oregon's public school system, the result was, well, a mess, with some students paying for full-day, some getting it for free, and many not getting it at all. The situation prompted the recent complaint from one Corvallis family that full-time kindergarten should be freely available to all. That led to last week's warning from both the state's legislative counsel and the attorney general's office that levying a fee for core elements of public schooling -- as opposed to such extra-curricular activities as sports -- may be illegal.

Overnight, parents and school districts plummeted into a state of having no idea what comes next.

It's not as though we did not see this coming. In 2005 and 2007, the Oregon Legislature rejected proposals to change the school formula and advance Oregon from half-time to full-time kindergarten. Far too often, that argument was framed as a funding battle between preschool and kindergarten, between right and left training wheels for early education. Next year's short session of the Legislature may not be eager to deal with all this, but as both educational and, now, legal authorities tell us, it's time to stop ignoring it. Estimates to fully fund full-time kindergarten across the state run as high as $40 million per year. Legislators need to chart a track to get us there by 2009.

Why? We thought you'd never ask. Because full-time kindergarten works. It's a key component of the drive to close the achievement gap. It's a critical rung of the ladder for non-native speakers and for children in poverty. It encourages parents "shopping" for a school to choose public education. And, yes, it's still the best strategy we know to foster long-term economic development.

For a long time in Oregon, it was possible to earn a decent living if you knew how to fell a tree and dress an elk. Those days are gone. Education is now the key to everything. It should not start with a half measure.

2. New TESA System Gets High Marks from Users - ODE News Release

Early reports from Oregon districts using a new on-line testing system implemented this fall are very favorable. More than 100,000 students have successfully completed tests in reading, mathematics and science. Districts report that the system is functioning well and the new vendor, American Institute for Research (AIR), is handling technical difficulties on a case-by-case basis as they occur. The features that earned the highest praise are the instantaneous feedback to students, the on-line reporting features, and the scheduling flexibility.

Top features for TEACHERS:
Students can test up to three times per year
Student scores are immediately displayed
Students are able to mark questions for review and then go back to check answers and make changes

Proctors and Administrators favorite features:
Ease of log-in, especially school code filled in automatically
Setting start time so students can not begin testing early
Student’s name on screen so it is easy to verify who is testing
Monitoring multiple test-takers from the proctor station

The most popular changes for all are the new reporting features. Individual, class and school reports can be quickly generated with built-in security features. January 2008 will bring on-line 24/7 access to these reports. Also starting in January 2008, students will be able to pause during reading tests without completing all of the questions and still return to the same passage later. As one district reported, “Students get great reports and I don't have to worry about the security of the browser. The new look of the tests is great!” More information on TESA is online at http://www.oaks.k12.or.us/index.asp .

3. Oregon Diploma Talk

This weekly item highlights actions taken, various questions and background relating to the new Oregon diploma.

The “I’m Ready, Are You?” The Oregon Diploma Video Challenge invites students and educators to highlight their dreams for the future and how school will help them get there. All Oregon public school students in 7th – 12th grades are eligible to enter either as an individual student, in a student group (2-10 students), or as a class with the support of their teacher. This contest will run from November 28th – February 15th. The winning class entries will receive a SMART Board 680i for your school (value $5,599). The winning individual students will win a 17” flat panel monitor computer (value $600). The winning student groups will win $1000. The challenge will run until February 15th, 2008. For more information or to see a sample video visit: www.getreadyoregon.org/contest. Video submissions have started arriving! Detailed information regarding the Oregon Diploma can be found at www.getreadyoregon.org.

4. Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools

What are you doing to promote the health of your students? State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo wants to recognize school programs that go beyond policy implementation to improve the health of their students.

“Supporting kids’ achievements and addressing health issues including physical activity and nutrition can greatly improve their ability to learn,” Castillo said. “Schools that recognize the link between health and education and have taken action benefit from more positive and alert students, reduced school absenteeism, and improved student performance and test scores.”

The schools chosen to receive the Oregon School Wellness Awards will receive public recognition and a cash prize. The application and additional information for this award can be found at: www.ode.state.or.us/services/nutrition under the Wellness link in the Associated Topic area. The deadline for application submission is 5 p.m. on January 15, 2008. For more information, please contact Heidi Dupuis eMail, Child Nutrition Programs, 503-947-5893.

Across the state of Oregon local governments and civic groups are working with their local schools to support students through special programs, funding and other forms of assistance. State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo recognizes and honors these special partnerships annually through the Outstanding Community School Partnership Awards.

"Teamwork and partnership are wise investments in our schools, our students, their families, and our communities. By pooling our resources and services, we ensure that each and every child is given the best chance to succeed," Castillo said. "When every community puts education first, the needs of ALL children are met through the work of family, community members, and school leaders."

State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo is asking for nominations of partnerships between schools and communities that support the success of their city’s students and/or school programs. Please address the following in your nomination letter:

Describe how the partnership is supporting, maintaining, or improving the quality of Oregon schools
Describe the participants in the partnership and their community and school connections
Discuss the partnership’s programs and how these programs target the needs in the community
Describe what makes this partnership unique and deserving of recognition
Include the partnership’s contact person’s name, title, e-mail, and phone number

Nomination letters should not exceed 500 words. Please email nomination letters to Regina McLoud eMail by February 4, 2008. Nominated partnerships will be invited to apply for this award. Each partnership is recognized for its dedicated mission, diverse participants and partnerships, sustainable funding, meaningful programs, and attainable goals. This is the third year that Castillo has formally recognized Outstanding Community/School Partnerships, and each award recipient will receive a small cash award of $500, a certificate of recognition, and a trophy. Visit our website to read about the 2007 Outstanding community School partnership award recipients and to read a “How to Guide” for starting or retaining a successful partnership. http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?=349. Questions? Contact: Regina McLoud eMail, 503-947-5803.

5. Susan’s Schedule

Week of December 10th – Susan attended the monthly lunch with statewide elected officials; met with Representative Chris Edwards; visit Prairie Mountain, a 2007 Celebrating Student Success School; meet with Ruth Scott, Innovation Partnership and Bob McKeen, Albina Community Bank; meet with Phillip Margolin and Julie Young of Chess for Success; meet with Dr. Linn Goldberg of OHSU and Dr. Bruce Goldberg of DHS; and attend NW Regional Education Service District Superintendent’s meeting.

Week of December 17th – Susan will meet with Willie Brown, Executive Director for the Black Citizen's Coalition of Portland Neighborhoods; meet with Kevin McCann, OSBA Executive Director; and meet with Jay Clemens and John Marshall of Associated Oregon Industries.

  • For scheduling inquires, please contact Jennifer Busey at (503) 947-5740.
  • Please forward this UPDATE to others who might find it of interest.

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