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8/26/2010 1:50:00 PM
Superintendent's Update #326
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:
  • Back to School Budget Message
  • Embracing the Common Core
  • Oregon Diploma Talk
  • Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools
  • Susan’s Schedule

Back To School Budget Message

By Susan Castillo

As many of you are already aware, today our state received more bad economic news. Oregon’s most recent budget forecast shows a $377.5 million budget shortfall for our state. And while the governor and legislative leadership have committed to protecting our schools from additional cuts, the cuts required to other core services will be a real challenge for our communities.

To maintain current education funding levels, the Governor, Senate President, and Speaker have proposed using the $118 million federal Education Jobs assistance and approximately $34 million of the state reserve funds. Over the past few years, our schools and districts have had to make round after round of cuts and difficult decisions and I am grateful that today’s news won’t signal additional cuts to educational services. As soon as we are able, my staff will provide school districts and education service districts with additional information.

Heading back to school can be a time of great anticipation, excitement, and new beginnings. However, it can also be a time of change and of real challenges. Our districts are looking ahead to a school year of tight budgets, restricted course offerings, and fewer staff or school days. There is no way to get around the fact that cuts to our schools impact our students and the quality of education we can provide them. But I want to thank the state and local leaders who work tirelessly to make these tough budget decisions. Thanks to your dedication, we have been able to minimize the negative impact these budget reductions will have on our kids.

OregonDespite the budgetary challenges our schools are facing, every day Oregon educators are showing their commitment to getting the job done. Our teachers know that there is nothing more important to our state’s economic future than ensuring that our students have the knowledge and skills to succeed and contribute once they graduate. We know that our graduates need to have strong skills in reading, writing, math, critical thinking, team work, and the use of technology. These are critical, foundational skills that students need to be employees, pursue higher education, and be active, engaged citizens. As we phase in the Essentials Skills over the coming years, we are reaffirming as a state the importance of these skills. This year’s juniors will be the first graduating class required to demonstrate their proficiency in reading in order to graduate. This year’s sophomores will be the first graduating class to demonstrate their proficiency in both reading and writing. And the freshman entering high school this fall will need to demonstrate their proficiency in reading, writing, and math in order to earn a diploma.

Students can’t be asked to make this transition without support and neither can schools. That is why my staff has been working with districts on a range of resources to help support the implementation of the Essential Skills. Initiatives like the DATA project have helped schools around the state focus on data driven decision making. Response to Intervention (RTI) helps match instruction and intervention to student need so that all students are supported in their academic growth. The K-12 Literacy Framework supports literacy instruction across subjects and grades to ensure that all students are reading at grade level. And the Assessment of Essential Skills Toolkit provides schools and districts with information and resources on assessing the Essential Skills. Visit the ODE website for these and other resources to assist you as you head back to school. And from the bottom of my heart – thank you all for your dedication, perseverance, and commitment to excellence. Here’s to the 2010-11 school year!

Embracing the Common Core

By Susan CastilloOregon

Around the nation, states are reviewing, and in many cases adopting, the Common Core State Standards. To date, 37 states have either adopted, or provisionally adopted, these standards and more plan to adopt by the start of school this year. I believe these standards are the right ones for our students and I strongly support their adoption and the promise they hold for improving education across the country and here in Oregon. These K-12 content standards define the knowledge and skills our students need for success in college and today’s workforce.

Not only will these common standards help prepare our students for the challenges and opportunities of their futures, but over time, the standards will also increase the efficiency of our education system by providing Oregon the opportunity to share experiences and best practices with other states. This will allow for important and often costly undertakings, such as curriculum and assessment development, to be streamlined.

In October, the State Board of Education will review an alignment study currently being conducted by ODE staff on the relationship between the Common Core State Standards and our Oregon standards. This study is one piece the State Board will consider as they review these standards and make their final determination regarding adoption. The State Board, like many of us, has a number of questions about what these standards will mean for Oregon schools and Oregon students. But at their latest meeting, the Board indicated that they are leaning toward adoption of these standards, and I look forward to continuing these conversations over the coming months.

However, adoption of these standards is merely a first step. We must think critically about how we ensure these standards are successfully implemented. This means, in part, ensuring that the primary elements of our educational system—curriculum, instruction, teacher preparation, professional development, and assessment—are aligned to support implementation.

Our students, parents, and educators deserve standards that are implemented as part of a well-supported, cohesive, and seamless education system. Oregon’s Math standards are nationally recognized for their clarity and we are focusing on how we keep the best of our Math standards in moving forward with adoption of the recently developed national standards. The Oregon Department of Education is working with education stakeholders across Oregon to develop the best way to take the standards from paper to practice and ensure greater success for our students no matter where they live.

Want to learn more?

• Learn more about the Common Core State Standards at: http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards
• Learn more about other states that have adopted the Common Core Standards at : http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2010/08/common-standards_watch_with_de.html
• For an FAQ on the Common Core, visit: http://www.corestandards.org/frequently-asked-questions

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

New Resources Now On-line for Reading Essential Skill

Several new resources are now available to assist districts in assessing the Essential Skill of Reading. The items include the following:

• A video presentation explaining the uses of the Reading Scoring Guide for instruction, formative assessment, and summative assessment.
• Spanish language versions of the Official Scoring Guide
• Student language versions of the scoring guide in English and Spanish
• An official Scoring Form for providing feedback on reading work samples
• A template to format reading work samples along with directions for using it
• An updated list of teacher trainers for reading work sample scoring and task development for the 2010-11 school year

Materials can be found at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=2703.

Watch for updates! More resources and WebEx training opportunities will be coming in the fall. For more information, contact: Barbara Wolfe eMail, Assessment of Essential Skills Coordinator.
Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools

Fall College Board Counselor Workshops
There will be three free College Board Fall Counselor Workshops around the state designed to share the latest information about programs, tools, and services that prepare students for college success. Locations: Ashland - September 14, 9-12; Portland - September 15, 9-12; Salem – September 16, 9-12. Visit the reservations website at: www.collegeboard.org/meetings for more information or to register.

Grant Opportunity for Expanding Pre-College Programs: Applications due September 10
Through a federal College Access Challenge Grant (CACG), the State of Oregon will be awarding $600,000 in mini-grants to expand the capacity of pre-college programs that are designed to increase postsecondary enrollment and completion rates for Oregon students. The CACG program is designed to increase the number of K-12 students who pursue education beyond high school. A key component of the 2010 CACG award is to award $600,000 in sub-grants to fund existing pre-college programs and promising new programs at established organizations that need additional support to increase their service capacity. Selected organizations will receive an annual budget along with technical assistance, and the awards are anticipated to be between $25,000 and $75,000 each.

The Request for Applications (RFA) can be found on the OUS website. Responses are due September 10, 2010. It is anticipated that awards will be announced by the end of September in order for programs to begin October 1, 2010. Questions related to the content and specifications of the RFA should be directed to Stephanie Carnahan eMail, Director of College Access Programs, Oregon University System, and questions regarding the application process should be directed to Hillary Bounds eMail, Director of Contracting and Purchasing, OUS.

FIRST Robotics Teams – Sponsored by JCPenny
JCPenney will sponsor high school FIRST Robotics Competition teams that are within 20 miles of their retails stores in: Astoria, Bend, The Dalles, Eugene, Grants Pass, LaGrande, McMinnville, Medford, N. Bend. Pendelton, Portland, Roseburg, and Salem. The FIRST Robotics Competition design and build season will be January 8 – February 22, 2011 with the state competition at Memorial Coliseum in late March. New teacher/coach training will be Saturday, September 24 and a workshop for teachers, students and mentors will be on Saturday, October 30. To learn more about FIRST programs, go to www.usfirst.org. If your school is interested in starting a team, contact FIRST PNW Regional Director, Deb Mumm-Hill eMail,503-715-6365. The deadline for the JCPenney partnership is Wednesday, September 15, 2010. NASA and MJ Murdock Charitable Trust grants will also be available for teams that are outside of a JCPenney retail location.

Student Peace Summit
On Thursday, September 23, the Wholistic Peace Institute (WPI) will host a free Student Peace Summit for middle and high school students, their parents, and teachers which will feature the former First Lady of South Korea, Mrs. Kim Dae Jung, whose husband won the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize. Click here PDF for more information on this event as well as other WPI sponsored activities during Peace Week. Also the WPI wishes to award ten $500 Peace Prizes to middle and high school peace clubs and initiatives; please email garyspanovich@wholisticpeaceinstitute.com eMail for details.
Susan's Schedule

Week of August 23 – Superintendent Castillo participated in a meeting with Representative Sara Gelser and education stakeholders to discuss common core standards and attended the Council of State Government’s common core standards meeting.

Week of August 30 – Susan will travel to Virginia to join Oregon’s team at Achieve’s American Diploma Project Annual Conference.

The August 2010 issue of Superintendent's Pipeline is available on the ODE website.

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