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Jake Weigler, (503) 947-5650

September 28, 2009

Governor Kulongoski and Superintendent Castillo Announce Oregon Race to the Top Team

Team will help Oregon compete for education reform grants

(Salem) – Today Governor Ted Kulongoski and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo announced next steps in the state’s efforts to prepare and compete for Race to the Top education grants. To assist in preparing the state’s application, the Governor and Superintendent announced the members of the state’s application design team and working groups.

“The Race to the Top presents us with the opportunity to tell Oregon’s compelling story about our vision for education reform and work with our federal partners to take these important next steps to improve the quality of our schools,” said Governor Kulongoski. “By bringing together education experts and advocates from across the state to develop this application, I am confident that Oregon is well positioned to compete for these additional resources so that we can begin to implement the most significant reforms in recent state history and deliver a higher quality education for all of our children.”

The Race to the Top Fund provides competitive grants for states that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform; implementing ambitious plans in the four education reform areas described in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act); and achieving significant improvement in student outcomes, including making substantial gains in student achievement, closing achievement gaps, improving high school graduation rates, and ensuring that students are prepared for success in college and careers.

To develop Oregon’s proposal, Governor Kulongoski and Superintendent Castillo have brought together education stakeholders from schools, non-profits and private businesses from across the state to identify best practices and chart a clear path for next steps in education reform. The application will be developed by a design team with four work groups that will focus on particular criteria that must be addressed in the application as outlined by the federal government.

“At the heart of our application is the exciting work underway in several districts across the state,” said Castillo. “Now that Oregon allows students to earn credit by demonstrating proficiency on what they know and can do, our teachers are developing innovative practices resulting in improved student performance. Race to the Top provides an opportunity for us to build on this great work.”

There are two opportunities for states to compete for the Race to the Top grants, as outlined in the U.S. Department of Education draft guidelines released in late July. Final guidance is expected in late October, after which states will have sixty days to submit an application for the first round of federal Recovery Act grants. The Governor and Superintendent expect the state design team to be ready with a complete application in time to compete in the first phase of Race to the Top grants, which has an anticipated deadline of the end of the 2009 calendar year.

The design team will prepare the state’s application with the input and feedback of the work groups. Each of Oregon’s work groups will focus on one of four assurances that a state must make to succeed in the Race to the Top competition:

  • The use of benchmarked standards and assessments to prepare students for success;
  • Recruiting and retaining effective teachers and principals;
  • The use of assessment data to improve instruction and practices; and
  • Turning around the state’s lowest performing schools.
“I want to thank all of these individuals from across Oregon volunteering their time to help improve public education in our state,” said Governor Kulongoski. “It is a tribute to our can-do spirit that so many from across the education community are coming together to help make our Race to the Top a success.”

The work groups have already begun their work and will continue to meet regularly until a final application is approved by the design team. In addition, the state is in the process of finalizing advisors and stakeholders who will provide feedback on the draft application.

The state also launched today a new website to track Oregon’s progress in the Race to the Top process, provide information to the public and solicit comment and feedback on the application. The address for the site is: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=2781.

A full list of the teams and their members is available on the Oregon Race to the Top website here: http://www.ode.state.or.us/superintendent/yat/meetings/rttt-list.pdf PDF.

The U.S. Department of Education’s draft guidance and other materials on Race to the Top can be accessed here: http://www.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/index.html.

Susan Castillo, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Jake Weigler, Communications Director, Telephone (503) 947-5650

Oregon Department of Education News Releases contain information that was originally released to the press as an official release.  Refer to each News Release for the details.

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