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5/19/2011 12:50:00 PM
Superintendent's Update #343
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:
  • Meeting the Challenge of the Global Economy: Increased Expectations for Oregon Students
  • Raising the Bar: A National Perspective
  • Oregon Diploma Talk
  • Opportunities and Financial Resources for Students and Schools
  • Susan’s Schedule

Meeting the Challenge of the Global Economy: Increased Expectations for Oregon Students
By Susan Castillo

student' Today, the State Board of Education voted to increase learning expectations for elementary and middle school students in reading starting next school year. This important decision follows on the Board’s vote last fall to raise the bar in math. Both of these votes help to create better alignment between our expectations at the lower grades and our new high school graduation requirements. These changes also help prepare our state for the transition to the new Common Core State Standards, rigorous national learning expectations which will help our students compete with their peers in other states. The increased rigor of the new reading achievement standards could initially result in fewer students meeting benchmark, but this does not mean students know less than they did the year before or that they are doing worse in school. These new achievement standards simply require a higher level of mastery of reading information and concepts. Simply put – we are asking more of our kids because we know that strong reading skills are key to future academic success.

I know that some people didn’t feel like this was the right time to raise the bar. These are tough times for our schools. Budgets are tight, staff have been cut, programs have been reduced. These are not easy times for us to ask for more from our teachers and our students. But we can’t avoid the urgency of this issue. Our students can’t afford for us to wait.

The US ranks 17th out of 65 industrialized countries in terms of student achievement. And our students’ lack of preparation is costing us. In the US, states, colleges, employers, and families spend more than $17 billion per year on remedial classes for students and employees. The story in Oregon is very similar to the nation as a whole. Oregon’s student achievement consistently ranks about the middle of the pack when compared to other states.

We need to make sure that all of our students are prepared for the challenges of college and career. No matter what path our students take after high school, we need them to be ready. This is why the State Board’s vote today is so critical. We need to ask more of our students in elementary and middle school so that by the time they reach high school, they will have the knowledge and skills needed to succeed.

To learn more about the State Board’s vote today, click here. To learn more about the new reading achievement standards, go to: http://www.ode.state.or.us/go/readingachievement.

Raising the Bar: A National Perspective
By Susan Castillo

Oregon is far from alone in the important work of raising the bar. States across the country are looking closely at what it really takes for our kids to be successful in the 21st century workplace. And business leaders have been increasingly joining the conversation, calling for standards that produced a well-educated, highly-skilled workforce.

There have been a number of good articles on this topic in recent months, but one that particularly caught my eye was a piece which ran in the Huffington Post in late April. Linda Rosen, CEO of Change the Equation, gets it just right. We need to tell the difficult truth about student achievement in our states, we need to raise expectations to better prepare kids, and we need to provide our students and teachers the support to get there. And above all we need to hold the line.

We have raised the bar in Oregon – in both math and reading. And as a result fewer students may initially meet this higher standard. Even students who are making good gains from year to year, may not reach this higher bar right away. But these new standards give us a more accurate picture of where our kids are today and what we need to do to get them ready for graduation and beyond. And we must get them ready. We must maintain our commitment to a level of rigor that truly prepares our kids for success! And remember, we are not alone in this work. States around the country are on this journey with us. And the outcome – students who are truly prepared for their futures – far outweighs the current hurdles.

Below is an excerpt from Linda Rosen’s April 27th article Time to Raise the Bar which calls out Oregon’s work in raising our math standards.

Time to Raise the Bar
By Linda Rosen, CEO of Change the Equation

The data that many states publish about how their students are doing in math and science just don't add up. While most states report that the majority of their students are proficient in math, for example, other data tell a very different story. The results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which sets a consistent bar for students in all states, rates only 38 percent of 4th graders and 33 percent of 8th graders proficient or advanced in math. And NAEP scores are not where they need to be if American students are to keep pace with their peers worldwide.

Last week, a group of leading chief executives sent letters to all 50 governors and the D.C. mayor urging them to tell the difficult truth about student performance in their states. They also sent another message: We've got your back.

Those CEOs are members of Change the Equation (CTEq), a coalition of more than 110 chief executives who are dedicated to boosting student achievement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Each letter to a governor came with a brief "Vital Signs" report on the condition of math and science learning in that governor's state. The reports offer real cause for concern. For example, the data show that many 4th and 8th graders seldom carry out or write about science projects, that many math teachers lack an undergraduate major or minor in math, that most states set low passing scores on content licensure tests for elementary teachers, and that few students take challenging Advanced Placement tests or make it through college.

CEOs are also encouraged by good news. NAEP math scores have risen over the past 15 years. Some states, like Massachusetts and Missouri, have maintained high expectations for students. Others, like Michigan, New York, Oregon and Tennessee, have been raising the passing scores on their state math tests. And now 43 states have joined forces to create a common set of clear and demanding academic content standards in English and math. All of those states have also joined consortia to create tests that align with those standards. This progress is a testament to the hard work and courage of educators and state leaders across the country. Similar work is underway in science.

But the CEOs recognize that there could be trouble ahead. If states follow through on strong standards and tests that set a high bar, then they can expect student pass rates to drop suddenly. That could lead to outside pressure to back down. CEOs say they will stand by state leaders as they hold the line on standards. They will also stand by state leaders as those leaders do the hard work of giving schools the tools they need to help students clear a higher bar. After all, high expectations are a necessary but by no means sufficient condition for preparing students to meet the demands of a global age. If teachers don't get the training, support and materials they need to teach to the high standards, then higher standards will put us on a road to nowhere…

Much progress has been made across the country, but such progress will be fragile indeed if we do not stiffen our spines against the temptation to lower the bar.”

Click here to access the full Huffington Post article.

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

In order to successfully implement the Common Core State Standards and achieve the overarching Common Core goal: every Oregon student College and Career-ready, ODE has pulled together a group of committed individuals representing all sectors of education to serve on the Common Core State Standards Stewardship Team. This group consists of close to 40 stakeholders, identified through a statewide nomination process, and appointed by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Stewardship membership includes K-12 and postsecondary educators in English language arts, mathematics, science, social science, and career and technical education, early childhood educators, ESD staff, faculty from colleges of education (teacher preparation), special education and English Language Learner directors, along with representatives from business, Oregon PTA, and professional educational organizations.

On May 16, the Stewardship Team had its first full meeting to work on the implementation plan and timeline for phasing in the Common Core. Members of the Steering Committee will meet regularly over the coming months and years to ensure a smooth transition to these new standards. Work groups were established in the areas of instructional materials, teaching and learning, professional development, and communications.

For a list of members, an agenda from Monday’s meeting, or to learn more about this group, please visit http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?=3344.

Opportunities and Financial Resources for Students and Schools

Environmental Education Grants for Schools and Teachers
The Oregon Community Foundation’s Environmental Education Program annually awards more than $700,000 via roughly 75 grants to schools, government agencies, and nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations. The program seeks to encourage a strong local land ethic, sustainable communities, and stewardship of the natural environment by citizens throughout Oregon. For the July 29 deadline, the program is accepting proposals in the project category of overnight, residential outdoor school programs for fifth and sixth grade students. Electronic materials are available on the sidebar of the Environmental Education Program page at www.oregoncf.org. For questions, contact Lara Christensen at 503-227-6846 or lchristensen@oregoncf.org eMail.

2011 Harold Schnitzer Spirit of Unity Award
Nominations are open for the 2011 Harold Schnitzer Spirit of Unity Award. $250 grants will be given out to 20 public or private middle and high schools in Oregon or SW Washington. To qualify, schools must have a peace program, club, project or initiative that has been active for one year or more and has positively impacted the school and community. To nominate a program, submit the following information: title of program and school association; age of program; number and ages of students involved; contact information for school and principal or teacher; 100-200 word description of the program, including purpose and goals; two examples of the program’s impact on school and/or community; and photos of the program activities. Nominations are due by July 5, 2011. For additional information or a submittal form, contact: Gary Spanovich; garyspanovich@wholisticpeaceinstitute.com eMail, 503-493-6294.

Online Chinese Language Courses
Online Chinese language courses start this fall! Oregon students can sign up through ORVED.org to receive live instruction in Beginning Chinese. Students work with live teachers in China and are introduced to Chinese as a spoken and written language. View a one page informational flier PDF for more information, or watch an online video to learn more. Download a course description and register to get more information at: http://www.orved.org/content/chinese-language-classes-start-fall

Beating Bullying: A Harassment & Bullying Prevention Program
The Oregon State Bar Civil Rights Section is holding a free public forum for students, parents, and the community on Thursday, June 2 from 4-5:30 pm, at Roosevelt High School Auditorium. The forum will address bullying among students, with a focus on how bullying impacts sexual minorities and youth with disabilities. The program will promote tolerance and inclusion, provide information on rights and avenues for recourse for students who are victims of bullying, present peer role models, and introduce students to the legal profession. For more information, contact Sarah Radcliffe at: sradcliffe@oregonlawcenter.org eMail

Susan's Schedule

Week of May 16 – Superintendent Castillo gave opening remarks before the Common Core State Standards Stewardship Team, met with Dick Hughes of the Statesman Journal, Representative Lew Frederick, Senator Richard Devlin, superintendents of the Lane Education Service District in Eugene, Jack Wilson of the Register Guard, and Kim Melton of the Oregonian, participated in the State Board of Education Meeting, and testified before the Senate Education Committee on graduation rate updates.

Week of May 23 – Susan will meet with Hasso Hering of the Albany Democrat Herald, visit with Lebanon Community School District (a CLASS Project district that is one of the recipients of the Chalkboard 24.4 million dollar TIF Grant), meet with the Lebanon Express Newspaper, meet with Dr. Charles Martinez and staff of the Oregon Social Learning Center, attend the Governor’s Investment Team Meeting, and speak at the COSA Off the Record Meeting.

The May 2011 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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