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3/7/2008 9:30:00 AM
Superintendent's Update #245
Superintendent's Update
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

English As a Proficient Language
More non-native students in Oregon are succeeding after the state goes to a new teaching style
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. ELPA 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 English.

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.
Corbett 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. Corbett

“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.

Schools to 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 School

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

Diploma Task Forces Up and Running
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.

The Standards 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.

The Cost 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.

The Implementation 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.

here to find more information about the task forces on the ODE website.
If you have questions please contact Theresa Levy eMail, Office of Educational Improvement and Innovation, Oregon Department of Education.
Detailed information regarding the Oregon Diploma can be found at
Get Ready Oregon

Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools

Correction: Last week's contact info for this announcement was incorrect. Please see corrected info below.
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 eMail, 503-947-1233, to request a reproducible hard copy.

A new 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 Oregon 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 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.
Application Process and Requirements:
Please see application materials on the Department of Education’s Website. Applications are due by May 2, 2008. For more information, contact
Diane Roth eMail at the Oregon Department of Education, 503-947-5791.
Susan’s Schedule
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.
The March 2008 issue of Superintendent's Pipeline is available on the ODE website: http://www.ode.state.or.us/pipeline/march-pipeline-08.pdf PDF

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