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1/9/2009 9:00:00 AM
Superintendent's Update #288
Superintendent's Update

In This Issue:
  • County Stays Strong in AP Scores Despite Increased Participation
  • Oregon 150 Youth Legacy Symposium
  • Oregon Diploma Talk
  • Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools
  • Susan’s Schedule

County Stays Strong in AP Scores Despite Increased Participation

The Oregon Department of Education has taken a special interest in following the progress of the Montgomery County School District in Maryland, after inviting them to present at a recent Oregon Leadership Network Conference. This district is making great strides in raising the achievement level of all students and closing the academic achievement gap. One key strategy of the district has been to expose more students to rigorous content.

By Daniel de Vise, Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 18, 2008; Page GZ11

Montgomery County high schools remain among the nation's elite in college-level Advanced Placement testing, even after dramatically expanding the number of disadvantaged students involved in the program, according to a review of score reports over several years.

The number of students taking AP exams nearly tripled between 2000 and 2008, from 4,626 to 13,568, according to annual reports published by the school system. School Superintendent Jerry D. Weast released 2008 data last week during a visit to Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

The number of disadvantaged students taking AP tests has increased at a greater rate, from 160 students in the 1999-2000 academic year to 1,112 in 2007-08. Disadvantaged students, or those who qualify for federally subsidized meals because of low family income, make up 8 percent of AP test-takers in the county, up from 3 percent at the start of the decade.

"Race should not be a predictor," Weast said, addressing students and staff at Bethesda-Chevy Chase. "Socioeconomics should not be a predictor. And the teachers of Montgomery County are proving that."

The larger presence of low-income students in the college-level testing program reflects two factors, school officials said: increased poverty in the community and the recruitment of disadvantaged students into advanced study. Under Weast, the school system has abandoned barriers to AP study that kept the program small in previous decades, reflecting an expansive philosophy toward college-level testing across the region. AP, International Baccalaureate and other programs expose high school students to college-level work. Students who score well on the end-of-course tests can qualify for college credit.

By several measures, Montgomery's high schools are among the most successful in the nation at AP study. Every county high school with a graduating class last spring earned a spot on the Challenge Index, a measure of participation in college-level testing created by Washington Post staff writer Jay Mathews. That means every county high school, including high-poverty Albert Einstein and Wheaton, ranked among the top 5 to 10 percent of high schools nationwide for AP and IB testing.

To read the entire article please visit:

Oregon 150 Youth Legacy Symposium

Project 2059: The Future is Ours to Create Henry Balensifer

Next month Oregon will celebrate its 150th birthday. The Governor’s planning committee has created a very unique Youth Legacy Project designed specifically to involve Oregon’s high school students in Oregon’s future.

Below is a message from Henry Balensifer, who is the youngest member of the Oregon 150 Board and Chair of its Youth Legacy Projects.

Dear Educators:

I’d like to bring to your attention a Sesquicentennial Project that is geared toward high school students. It’s called Project 2059: The Future is Ours to Create. Our ambitious mission is to “Actively engage today’s youth to envision Oregon’s next 50 years and create a blueprint for realizing that vision.”

This is a great way for students to demonstrate that they are not just young people still learning. Rather, that they are a powerful force, a generation of people who want to help reshape politics and policy to make Oregon a safer, sustainable, and more livable place.

Project 2059 empowers high school students to create a collaborative vision of what Oregon should look like in the year of our bicentennial. They will consider issues that will shape our state over the next 50 years. They will use innovative technology to present their ideas and identify the best thinking of their peers.

In the summer of 2009, a select group of participants from around the state will gather at Willamette University to craft this input into a visionary platform for Oregon's future.

To get more information and to find out how to participate go to: http://www.oregon150.org/projects/youth-legacy/.

Thanks for involving your students in a process they will never forget.


Henry A. Balensifer III
Chair, Youth Legacy Projects
Oregon 150 Commission

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

The following joint release from the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve was sent out on December 19th and makes a great case for why it is so important that our state continue to make progress on the implementation of the Oregon Diploma.

Education Policy Experts Sound Alarm Over America’s Ability to Compete

Governors, Superintendents and Education Experts Offer Recommendations for Improving Competitiveness of U.S. Education System and Call for State and Federal Government Action

WASHINGTON – Underscoring the link between a world-class education and a sound U.S. economy, leading education experts today issued a report offering sweeping recommendations to internationally benchmark educational performance.

The report, "Benchmarking for Success: Ensuring U.S. Students Receive a World-class Education" released by the International Benchmarking Advisory Group, provides states a roadmap for benchmarking their K-12 education systems against those of top-performing nations. The report explains the urgent need for action and outlines what states and the federal government must do to ensure U.S. students receive a world-class education that provides expanded opportunities for college and career success. The Advisory Group was convened by three of the nation's leading education policy organizations – the National Governors Association, Council of Chief State School Officers and Achieve, Inc. – and consists of governors, state commissioners of education, representatives from the business community, researchers, former federal officials, and current state and local officials.

International benchmarking will help state policymakers identify the qualities and characteristics of education systems that best prepare students for success in the global marketplace. Understanding these intricacies will provide state leaders the insights necessary to ensure U.S. students are receiving a world-class education and provide students with expanded opportunities for college and career success.

"We are now living in a world without borders, and in order to maintain America's competitive edge into the future we need students who are prepared to compete not only with their American peers, but with students from all across the globe for the jobs of tomorrow," said Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, co-chair of the Advisory Group.

"The time is now – we must ensure that our students are prepared to compete and innovate in the 21st century," said Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, co-chair of the Advisory Group. "Benchmarking for Success is a call to action and provides a clear path to follow."

The Advisory Group identified five transformative steps American education needs to undergo to produce more globally competitive students:

1. Upgrade state standards by adopting a common core of internationally benchmarked standards in math and language arts for grades K-12;

2. Leverage states' collective influence to ensure textbooks, digital media, curricula and assessments are aligned to internationally benchmarked standards and draw on lessons from high-performing nations;

3. Revise state policies for recruiting, preparing, developing and supporting teachers and school leaders to reflect the "human capital" practices of top-performing nations and states around the world;

4. Hold schools and systems accountable through monitoring, interventions and support to ensure consistently high performance, drawing upon international best practices; and

5. Measure state-level education performance globally by examining student achievement and attainment in an international context to ensure that students are receiving the education they need to compete in the 21st century economy.

"The world will always recognize talent, no matter where it resides. To be globally competitive and ensure long term economic growth, all U.S. students need an internationally benchmarked college- and career-ready education," said Craig Barrett, Chairman of the Board at Intel Corporation. "We must do better for our students. They need strong content knowledge, especially in mathematics and science, critical thinking, problem solving and communications skills to innovate and create solutions for the complex challenges of the 21st century."

International benchmarking is crucial for the United States to remain competitive on a global scale. The U.S. is losing its historic edge in educational attainment and international assessments routinely show America behind other nations. In the most recent Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) released earlier this month, U.S. eighth graders were significantly outscored by peers in five nations in mathematics and nine nations in science. The U.S. has not made progress on racial achievement gaps since 1999. As recently as 1995, America still tied for first in the percentage of college-age people who obtain a bachelor's degree; however, by 2006, the country had dropped to 14th. That same year the United States had the highest college dropout rate of 19 industrialized countries.

In addition to the actions above, the report reiterates the importance of a strong state-federal partnership for improving U.S. competitiveness and offers suggestions for how the federal government can support and incentivize states’ international benchmarking efforts.

To read the full release click here.

Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools

The YOUthFILM Project

The YOUthFILM Project the annual, state-wide student filmmaking contest, sponsored by the Multnomah Bar Association Young Lawyers Section with support of the Classroom Law Project, provides students (K-12) an opportunity to express themselves creatively, learn more about the rule of law, win prizes, and have fun. Top films will be screened for the public at the Hollywood Theatre in Northeast Portland, on April 28, 2009. Prizes will be awarded at the screening by honorary guests, including Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul J. De Muniz. Prizes include the iPod Nano, iPod Shuffles, gift cards to the iTunes Store, and movie tickets.

Some Oregon social studies teachers are integrating the program into their curriculum as a group project or as an extra-credit assignment. Don’t miss the kick-off event at the International Firehouse Cultural Center on February 7, 2009, from 1:00-2:30 p.m., where students and teachers can get more information about the contest and kick-off their own projects. The final day for registration is February 27, 2009. For details on the program and kick-off event, or to view the new promo trailer (starring the Chief Justice himself) and download 2009 registration materials for your classroom, visit www.theyouthfilmproject.org.

WorldQuest Global Knowledge Competition for High Schools

The World Affairs Council of Oregon announces the 7th annual team competition. The competition involves 45 teams of students from schools in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Each participating school is invited to send one or two teams to show off their knowledge in areas such as culture, religion, language, landmarks, current events, history, geography, flags, and people in the news and much more. Topics change each year.

Each team is comprised of up to four students, grades 9-12, and may be coached by a teacher, youth leader or parent from your school. This competition is free and will take place in late February 2009 (date to be announced) in the Pamplin Gym at Lewis & Clark College, 2-8 pm. This includes breaks for an ethnic meal together, a variety of cultural experiences and a chance to meet with International students. Each team will leave with WorldQuest T-Shirts and new friendships with students from around the world. First prize will be a chance to compete in the National WorldQuest Competition in Washington, D.C. in early April, 2009. The top three teams will receive an International Trophy to display in their school. The DEADLINE for registration is January 31st, 2009. For more information please contact Karen Ettinger, World Affairs Council K-12 Education Director, 503-274-7488, karen@worldoregon.org eMail. For information on past WorldQuests go to www.worldoregon.org and click on “K-12 Education.”

Susan’s Schedule

Week of January 5th- Susan attended the Swearing In Ceremony of Kate Brown and Ben Westlund at the Capitol, met with Rep. Betty Komp, met with Rep. Sara Gelser, met with the Register Guard editorial board, met with representatives from Planned Parenthood, led an all-staff meeting for the Department of Education, and spoke at the Eugene Educators Forum.

Week of January 12th- Susan will participate in the opening Joint Session of the Legislature, will have a radio interview with Lacy Turner, and will attend the State Board of Education meeting.

The January 2009 issue of Superintendent's Pipeline is available on the ODE website.

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