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5/13/2010 11:45:00 AM
Superintendent's Update #323
Superintendent's Update

Superintendent Castillo's bi-weekly updates showcase the efforts and achievements of Oregon schools. Through these regular updates, the Superintendent hopes to increase communications regarding important initiatives for Oregon's students. Click here to access archived issues of Superintendent’s Update.

In This Issue:
  • Healthy Living Supports Academic Success
  • Oregon Tapped to Establish National Standards on Early Childhood Education
  • Oregon Diploma Talk
  • Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools
  • Susan’s Schedule

Healthy Living Supports Academic Success

By Susan Castillo

Oregon schoolteachers know that when kids eat nutritious meals and engage in regular physical activity, their attendance goes up, they pay better attention in class, and they earn higher grades.

Just as importantly, our schools can be places where students start developing smart eating and exercise habits that they will continue throughout their lives. First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign against childhood obesity is right on the mark. We know that 17% of America's children are considered obese, and as such are at greater risk to a multitude of health issues, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. As a nation, we must do more to teach kids that healthy living and learning go together, and that eating right and exercising are the way to go.NCLB'

I believe that schools can show the way.

That's why Fairview Elementary in Klamath Falls started an initiative to increase safe walking and biking to school; and why Hoover Elementary in Corvallis made a farm-to-school program part of its school lunch; and why Sacramento Elementary in Portland's Parkrose District incorporates "Jammin' Minutes" of exercise during class time to keep kids energized.

These three schools are winners of the Oregon Department of Education's 2010 "School Wellness Awards" for their innovative and holistic approaches to their students' mental and physical well-being. There is much more that these schools -- and many more across our state -- are doing to promote healthy eating and exercise. These schools show us that we must be more creative in our approaches to student health and fitness.

Unfortunately, tough economic times have led to major reductions in school physical education programs. Districts have had to cut physical education teachers and budgets for equipment and supplies. At the same time, Oregon is under a legislative directive to ensure that by 2017 elementary and middle school students receive 150 and 225 minutes (respectively) of physical education every week.

Clearly, we need to do more to prioritize physical education. The key will be figuring out ways to do more with limited resources. We have some terrific people in our schools showing outstanding leadership in this area. Also, initiatives such as the Oregon Physical Education Expansion K-8 (PEEK) program and the U.S. Department of Education Carol M. White Physical Education Program are funding further innovations.

In April, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the FIT Kids Act. The bill will require school districts to collect data on the quality and quantity of physical education in our nation’s schools. Oregon already collects similar data from school districts across the state. This Act is one step toward federal support for daily quality physical education. Educators can’t do this alone. Locally and nationally, support needs to come from legislative leaders. Work needs to continue to increase recognition of health and physical education within the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

It is up to all of us -- from legislators to principals, teachers to parents -- to step up and do more to make healthy living and learning a priority for our children.

Oregon Tapped to Establish National Standards on Early Childhood Education

By Susan Castillo

We are born to learn. From earliest infancy, children possess a natural curiosity about the world, and they show their intelligence in amazing ways day by day. That's why it is so vital to make sure that all children grow up in a developmentally appropriate, cognitively stimulating environment. Oregon is leading the way nationally in establishing education standards for early childhood education.

Now, thanks to a technical assistance grant from the National Governors Association (NGA), we are one of just 6 states creating new standards for child care -- both in centers and home-based. These standards will ensure that students are prepared to start kindergarten. We want to give every child a strong start in life, so that "we can achieve the outcomes we all want for children," says Dell Ford, who helps oversee Head Start at ODE. "This is about high standards and readiness for school."NCLB'

Too often, we find students playing catch-up from their very first day of kindergarten. That's not acceptable. We must work to ensure that children have the skills they need to start school, before they enter kindergarten. We already have health and safety guidelines in place for child care centers. The time has come to address the learning and developmental needs of our youngest children, as well. These, of course, will be aligned with our existing state and federal Head Start/Pre-K and Early Head Start education standards. Regardless of the settings these young children are in, we are expecting high standards.

ODE's "Early Childhood Foundations" lays out what children should know, understand, and be able to do during the first five years of life -- from using gestures to say hello and goodbye, to being able to count to 10, to recognizing letters and sounds.

Child care centers and home-based child care that submit portfolios showing they meet the standards and are approved through a review process will be designated as an "Oregon Program of Quality." The program will be voluntary. The NGA grant will provide Oregon the opportunity to receive support from the National Governor Association’s Center for Best Practice and national early childhood experts in developing high program standards that lead to school readiness for all children. NGA will also assist in developing a statewide implementation approach for this effort. Oregon was selected for the grant based on its strong track record on early childhood education, including already aligning standards, curricula, child assessments, teacher degree requirements and monitoring mechanisms for federal and state Head Start/Pre-K and Early Head Start programs.

Our leadership on early childhood was also affirmed when the Legislature increased funding for our Head Start Pre-K program during the 2007 session and recently approved first time state funding for Early Head Start, serving pregnant women and children ages birth to three, and their families.

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

Approving Applied Academic Courses

Q: Does the Oregon Department of Education have to approve an applied academic course before it can be used to meet the diploma requirements?

A: No. Course approval is a local decision. However, it is still good practice to document the scope of an applied academic course through a planned course statement. The planned course statement should include the academic standards being addressed and other information that would justify awarding credit in academic content areas such as science or math. For example, the Oregon diploma requirements include three credits of inquiry-based science. If a district has decided to allow an applied science course to meet diploma requirements, the planned course statement should describe how the course is inquiry based.

If you have questions about Applied Academics, please contact Tom Thompson eMail

Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools

America’s Promise Alliance- 100 Best Communities for Young People

Does your community make children and youth a priority? Is it committed to reducing the challenges faced by young people and creating better places to grow up and live? Are people working together to ensure every young person graduates? If so, you and your colleagues should enter America’s Promise Alliance’s 100 Best Communities for Young People competition presented by ING.

The Alliance’s 100 Best competition is an excellent way to show the nation how your community is helping create a brighter future for young people. All communities are eligible. Previous 100 Best winners include small towns, large cities, counties and school districts that are committed to ensuring every young person stays in school and is ready for the 21st century workforce. Winning communities receive media exposure, logistical support for local event celebrations and awards to be displayed in the community.

Applications can be submitted from March 1 through June 1, 2010. For more information or to apply, visit www.americaspromise.org/100best. Conference calls and Webinars are regularly scheduled to clarify the nomination process. If you have any questions, e-mail Jordan LaPier at 100BestHelp@americaspromise.org eMail.

“Are You Red Cross Ready?” In American Sign Language

The Oregon School for the Deaf recently partnered with the American Red Cross Willamette Chapter, creating a public service announcement in ASL to educate people on the important steps of emergency preparation. In addition to appearing on Capitol Community Television (CCTV) in the Salem area during the month of March, the video is on YouTube at: http://bit.ly/RCRinASL.

The Willamette Chapter has received positive feedback from the national Red Cross office in Washington DC regarding the video and has also received support from local and state offices who are utilizing this resource in their communities.

Congratulations to OSD on the success of this project!

Susan's Schedule

Week of May 10 – Superintendent Castillo attended a lunch meeting at the University of Portland on teacher education; attended the State Data Warehouse Sharing Event in Salem; participated in the Council for Chief State School Officer’s monthly board meeting; and spoke at the Oregon Latino Education Summit in Eugene.

Week of May 17 – Susan will participate in the State Board of Education meeting; will have lunch with Teacher of the Year Donna Dubois; and participate in the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Special Education meeting.

Week of May 24 –Susan will travel to Coos Bay to celebrate the “Learning About Where We Live GK12 project.” For the last six years, the University of Oregon’s Institute of Marine Biology has worked with school districts along the southern Oregon Coast to teach marine science to Kindergarten through 6th graders in nine elementary schools.

The May 2010 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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