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Superintendent's Update #329
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:
  • States around the Nation Raise the Bar
  • Making the Grade: Oregon’s School and District Report Cards
  • Closing the Achievement Gap: Spotlight on Salem’s Claggett Creek Middle School
  • Oregon Diploma Talk
  • Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools
  • Susan’s Schedule

States around the Nation Raise the Bar
By Susan Castillo

On October 28, the Oregon State Board of Education will vote on two K-12 education reforms - adoption of the Common Core State Standards and raising our math Achievement Standards. Increases in the math achievement standards are necessary to ensure our students are ready for the rigors of the high school diploma requirements and success after high school. The health of our education system, and the success of our students as 21st century citizens, depends on a transparent assessment of how prepared our students are for the workforce and college. As we move toward national standards and development of a shared assessment system, the steps we take today in setting higher achievement standards will better position our students to join their peers around the nation in preparing for the future.

As states around the country look ahead to the rigors of the Common Core, we have seen other states adopt interim achievement standards to help prepare students and schools for these higher expectations. States to recently adopt new achievement standards include Delaware, New York, and Hawaii. These states understand that it is critical to have an accurate picture of how prepared our students are for their next grade, for graduation, and for life after high school. Meeting our current elementary and middle school math standards is not predictive of success at high school, and this is simply unfair to our students. Our students have a right to know how they measure up and how well they can expect to do in the future, and it is our responsibility to provide them with this accurate information and the tools they need to continue to grow. Student achievement results will go down with a higher bar but we will have the information we need to help our students reach new heights and prepare to compete with students from around the nation and around the world.

Making the Grade: Oregon’s School and District Report Cards
By Susan Castillo

This month, we released the 2009-10 Oregon School and District Report Card ratings and we saw more schools receive an Outstanding rating this year. The percent of our schools rated Outstanding went up three percent from 34% last year to 37% this year. And the percent of our schools rated Satisfactory and In Need of Improvement went down two percent and one percent respectively.

But it was our high school students who were the big achievers this year. The number of Oregon high schools rated Outstanding jumped an unprecedented nine percent due to an impressive increase in reading scores. Oregon students are answering the call of increased high school graduation requirements and are showing they are up to the challenge. Despite the current budget crisis, our schools, and our students, are showing us that it can be done.

And this is just one more reminder that we must stay the course with the K-12 systems reforms currently underway – reforms such as increased achievement standards and the adoption of national content standards which will better prepare students for the demands of the 21st century workplace. This is critical work, and we cannot do it alone. We need engaged community and business partners who understand the importance of increased knowledge and skills for our high school graduates.

In addition to providing insight into the progress of our high schools, our school and district report cards also include information on student test performance, school improvement, attendance, dropout rates, class size, SAT scores, expulsions due to weapons, and teacher education and experience. Last year, a student growth model was incorporated into the report cards to measure student learning over time to demonstrate whether schools are helping students make progress towards meeting state achievement standards. Access your school and district report cards online at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/data/reportcard/reports.aspx.

Closing the Achievement Gap: Spotlight on Salem’s Claggett Creek Middle School

This feature highlights high poverty and/or minority schools recognized this year for their progress in closing the academic achievement gap.

Failing to meet federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards spurred Claggett Creek Middle School to recommit to raising student achievement. The staff had always taken pride in its hard work, “but to get written up as substandard sticks in your craw,” says Principal Pete Danner*. The school turned the negative attention into a positive, creating a “Yes We Can” coalition to refocus on student success. That dedication paid off when the school met AYP last year. “Whether a child meets or exceeds on a particular state test is not nearly as important,” says Danner, “as being able to sit across from a parent and say, ‘Your child is growing and achieving, and here’s the data, the evidence.’”

student' While not every student may be college bound, Claggett Creek wants every student to believe they have the choice to pursue higher education. That message is critical in a school where many students’ parents did not attend college themselves. Teachers communicate the college message in many ways, including posting pennants by their doors touting the colleges they attended and the degrees they earned. An Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program taps students who have the potential to go to college, giving them the support and skills to prepare for higher education; teachers are trained to incorporate AVID strategies into their classrooms. “You just keep talking college, college, college,” says Terry Shrout, a science teacher who also teaches AVID.

A data team analyzes student data and creates posters to visually represent individual students’ progress. The posters are hung in teacher team rooms so that all teachers can track the progress of students. Grade-level “professional learning communities” meet monthly to focus on data, especially in the two groups that need most improvement – English Language Learners and students with disabilities. As a result of this focus, both groups saw double-digit gains in reading and math achievement. Teacher teams structured around grade-levels and curriculum, as well as common prep times, keep lines of communication open. “We used to be teacher-centered,” says Brad Dixon, a 6th grade teacher and teacher team leader. “We changed the question to what students need to learn, and that’s when things started to change.”

The school maintains strong programs in drama, art, music (including band, orchestra, and choir) and physical education. “These are a draw for many kids,” says Danner, who also credits a student incentive program (including Wii systems, donated for the cause, as prizes) for improving attendance. “Not every student is motivated to come to school to learn math. A lot of kids will come because they’re interested in art or music or sewing or cooking or industrial tech, so we try to protect those things... And then while they’re here, we can inundate them with math and reading instruction, not just in reading and math classes, but also in those electives.”

Visit http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=2890 to learn more about other schools closing the gap and to watch a short video showcasing Claggett Creek’s story.

* Note: Pete Danner was the principal of Claggett Creek when this award was given but has since left the school. The current principal is Colleen Johnson.

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

Reading Essential Skills – How Prepared are our Students?

This month, every high school principal and superintendent in the state received a letter from ODE with information about how prepared their juniors are to meet the new Reading Essential Skill. With less than two years to ensure all of our students are prepared for this graduation requirement, it is critical that we all – administrators, teachers, and parents – know if our students are ready to reach this new bar and are actively working to help those who are not yet there. Do you know if your students are prepared? What is your school doing to help struggling readers? What are you doing? Take the time to have a conversation with your school about what they are doing to help kids meet this new requirement and what you can do to help.

Opportunities and Financial Resources for Schools

Oregon School Wellness Awards
Applications are now being accepted for the annual Oregon School Wellness Awards. The three schools chosen to receive the awards will receive a cash prize, certificate of recognition, banner, and serve as an example for the entire state. The application and additional information on the awards can be found at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/results/?id=207.

Applications are due Friday January 21, 2011. Questions? Contact Jennifer Parenteau at (503) 947-5890 or jennifer.parenteau@state.or.us eMail.

Seeking Meeting Facilitator
The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) is seeking a meeting facilitator to oversee the work of the Superintendent School Improvement Steering Committee. A Request for Proposal (RFP) is currently open for this contract opportunity. The goal of the steering committee is to align ODE school improvement activities with other state-level initiatives and enhance communication with school districts and education service districts.

If you have recent experience as an educational administer, have knowledge of the Oregon school improvement process, and understand the interrelationship between school districts, education service districts, and ODE, please consider submitting a proposal.

The RFP announcement (Notice #ODE-1575-10) Superintendent School Improvement Steering Committee Facilitator can be located by accessing the Oregon Procurement Information Network (ORPIN) system at http://orpin.oregon.gov/open.dll/welcome. All proposals must be received by November 15, 2010 at 2:00 pm.

Hispanic Youth Conference to be Held in Keizer
The Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs in collaboration with the US Hispanic Leadership Institute are hosting a Hispanic Youth Leadership Conference in Keizer, October 29-30. The conference is aimed at high school and college aged youth and will include a career fair, speakers, and workshops. For more information or to register please contact the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs at oaco.mail@state.or.us eMail.

Susan's Schedule

Week of October 11– Superintendent Castillo met with the other state-wide elected officials for lunch, met with the Oregonian’s Editorial Board in Portland, met with Senator Ginny Burdick, met with Senator Mark Hass, met with Rob Wagner of AFT-Oregon, and meet with superintendents at the COSA Off the Record meeting in Salem.

Week of October 18 – Susan met with the Bend Bulletin’s Editorial Board and met with the 2010-2011 Youth Advisory Team.

Week of October 25 – Susan will participate in the Governor’s Education Reform Workgroup meeting and will participate in the State Board of Education meeting.

The October 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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