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8/5/2011 3:10:00 PM
Superintendent's Update #346
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:
  • Rising Targets and the Impact on AYP Ratings
  • Raising our Educational Standards
  • Oregon Diploma Talk
  • Opportunities and Financial Resources for Students and Schools
  • Susan’s Schedule

Rising Targets and the Impact on AYP Ratings
By Susan Castillo

This week, I released the 2010-11 Preliminary Adequate Yearly Progress ratings for Oregon’s public schools. On the face of it, these results look quite discouraging. Only 54% of Oregon schools met the federal AYP targets—down from 71% last year. Clearly, we are not where we need to be. However, these results only show us part of the picture of what’s going on in our schools, and they do not mean that our students or our schools are doing worse. In fact, we know from preliminary test results that student achievement is on the rise in Oregon!

The drop in the percent of schools meeting these targets was the result of two significant changes since last year: increases in the federal targets and higher state math standards. In the 2009-10 school year, schools had to have 59% of students meeting state standards in math and 60% meeting in reading in order to meet federal adequate yearly progress. This year, these targets went up to 70% in both subjects. In addition, this past October the State Board of Education adopted higher expectations for elementary and middle school students in math to provide students, parents, and teachers with better information about how prepared students are to meet high school diploma requirements and graduate ready for college and career. These two changes raised the bar for our schools, making it harder than ever before to meet these federal targets.

We know from preliminary test results that our students and our schools are rising to the challenge of these new higher expectations. We are seeing strong growth in student achievement—growth that we should all be proud of—but this growth was not enough to get all of our students and schools over this higher bar. But by increasing expectations, our state has taken an important step toward ensuring that all of our students graduate ready to compete in our 21st century workplace. We must maintain our commitment to these higher standards and our focus on career and college ready skills for all of our kids.

I know firsthand the good work going on in our schools to improve opportunities and outcomes for kids, but unfortunately, these AYP results do not reflect the growth and innovation taking place in Oregon schools. This decade-old law has served an important role in shaping education in our country—focusing on the importance of standards-based education and shining the light on key issues like the academic achievement gap. However, this law is long overdue for reform. It fails to account for individual student growth, offers no real flexibility to our schools, and hinders, rather than supports, educational innovation.
Education in Oregon, and around the country, has changed dramatically in the past ten years. We are increasing expectations from elementary through high school to ensure all of our students graduate ready for college and career. We have adopted the Common Core—rigorous national standards that put our students on a level playing field with their peers around the country. We are implementing educational models based on proficiency, personalization, and individual growth. And we are working with the governor’s office to build a more seamless education system which connects students to services and supports Pre-K through higher education. In short, we are moving ahead and creating the 21st century education system we know our students need and deserve. If congress does not act on reauthorization, Oregon will join with states from around the country in calling for waivers and additional flexibility so that we can create a 21st century accountability system that truly meets the needs of our students and our schools.

We know that we are not seeing the results we need to see for all of our students. But we also know that the AYP results do not portray the full picture of education in Oregon. We need an accountability system that accounts for student level growth and supports both accountability and innovation. And most importantly, we need to keep the focus on increasing the rigor and ensuring that our students exit our schools with the skills to succeed in life, work, and citizenship.

Click here for this week's AYP press release.
Click here to access your school or district’s AYP report.

Raising our Educational Standards
By Susan Castillo

I would like to highlight an excellent article on the topic of raising the bar and the importance of accurately reporting student achievement. The piece below, submitted by retired Intel CEO and Change the Equation Board Chair Craig Barrett, ran in the Huffington Post on July 5, 2011. Mr. Barrett challenges states to provide teachers, students, and parents with better information about how prepared our kids really are to succeed in today’s knowledge-based, global economy. The issue here is not with teachers or with kids – it’s with states all around the country setting the bar too low. Our world has changed and students today need to leave our schools with a higher level of skills than ever before. As states, it is our job to ensure that our standards are aligned with international expectations and are set at a level that will prepare our students for success down the road. Mr. Barrett recognizes Oregon as one of the states that has take this important step and raised the rigor in order to better equip students to compete in the 21st century workplace. This message is particularly critical this week as we look at the 2010-11 preliminary AYP results – results that reflect more rigorous expectations for our kids.

It's Time to Stop Lying to Students and Parents and Raise Our Educational Standards
By Craig Barrett, Board Chair of Change the Equation, as published in the July 5, 2011 Huffington Post

I recently told the Arizona Commerce Authority that if I was choosing a site for Intel to build a new facility, Arizona wouldn't even make my Top 10 list.

Even though Intel employs 9,700 people in its semiconductor manufacturing and research and development facilities in Arizona, the condition of K -12 education in the state, particularly in science and math (STEM), makes me believe that it would be foolish to invest another dime in the state. Why would anyone want to build in a place where it will be unable to find enough qualified employees?

Not surprisingly, my comments created controversy but it's time someone told the truth. State educational systems are cooking their books and lying to kids and parents. Specifically, they are rigging educational standards, setting the bar for "proficiency" far too low and creating a dishonestly rosy picture of American schools. By doing so, states are torpedoing the future of America's students and American business.

Change the Equation, a national nonprofit partnership of 111 CEOs that I chair, recently released its first Vital Signs report, a state-by-state examination of the state of STEM education. What the report reveals should alarm elected officials, policymakers, students and parents across the country.

According to the state test in Arizona, 74 percent of the state's fourth graders are proficient in math. When the state's results were assessed by the U.S. Department of Education's National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) which track international assessments, the proficiency numbers plunged, with only 28 percent of Arizona's fourth graders meeting standards.

This is not just about Arizona. In California, the state deemed that 66 percent of fourth graders were proficient in math. According to NAEP, only 30 percent of the state's fourth graders were proficient.

The problem is not limited to 4th graders; it manifests itself throughout the entire education system. For example, the US is essentially the only OECD country where our 25-35 year olds are less well educated than the 55-65 year olds.

This obfuscation is unacceptable. Unless we level with parents and students about the true state of education, this country doesn't have much of a chance to make students competitive in 21st century global marketplace.

We are not the only ones pushing for change. In late 2009, President Obama launched the "Educate to Innovate" campaign to bring American students back to the "top of the pack" in STEM education in the next decade. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan told parents at the 2010 Annual National PTA Conference, "[W]e have been actually lying to children and lying to ourselves by pretending that 50 different standards, in 50 different states, will make America competitive and help our children succeed in life . . . We have to tell the truth. And we have to raise the bar for all children."

Looking ahead, the business community knows we can't flourish without a trained and prepared workforce. Our students will be competing in a global economy, so it's critical that our schools use high standards for assessing progress. It is because of our concern about the future of our students and their ability to innovate and grow American business that the CEOs from the partnership have sent letters to the nation's Governors urging them to resist political pressure to lower expectations.

So where do we go from here? The solution starts with establishing realistic and challenging proficiency standards. We need our leaders, particularly governors, to stiffen their backs, fight against complacency and raise and create uniform standards -- and we ask them to stand firm when the initial reports may reveal their students are not meeting the new, but more honest, standards.

Some states are already doing the right thing and increasing standards. Delaware, Michigan, Tennessee and Oregon have recently raised the bar. New York also raised its passing scores and proficiency levels dropped, causing a media outcry. But leaders in the state are standing strong and doing the hard work to ensure that students will succeed.

Change the Equation members are pledging to do our part by standing behind leaders who take the brave and potentially unpopular step of raising standards. And we also commit to improving our philanthropy and expanding effective STEM learning programs to the communities that need them most.

It's time to use honest assessments and do the hard work of getting more of our students to clear the bar. Together, we can stop the race to the bottom for American students.

Oregon Diploma Talk

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

This next year, Oregon will graduate the first high school class required to demonstrate proficiency in order to earn a diploma. This new requirement has dramatically increased achievement in a number of Oregon schools. Students are rising to the challenge, teachers are focusing their efforts on what truly produces results, and administrators are championing what this will mean for our kids.

In today’s knowledge-based world, our students need to be expert readers, writers, and thinkers to compete and succeed in a global economy. Reading is the first Essential Skill to be required for graduation and is required for students who first entered 9th grade in 2008 (the graduating class of 2012).

For more information on the Reading Essential Skill, visit: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=2042. To view the Essential Skills toolkit, go to: http://assessment.oregonk-12.net/.

Opportunities and Financial Resources for Students and Schools

Avery Give Back to Schools Contest
The Avery Give Back to Schools contest is now open for schools across the country. This program is one of the ways the company supports its belief that a solid education is the cornerstone of a strong community. To enable children to receive the education that they need and deserve, Avery Dennison provides financial and in-kind support to children, teachers, and schools through programs such as Box Tops for Education.

This year, Avery will award the top 30 schools with the most online votes in a tier-based structure. The top five schools with the most online public votes will each receive $10,000 worth of new Avery school supplies, 10,000 Bonus Box Tops coupons (redeemable for cash by schools) and ten $100 gift cards to be split among the teachers for purchase of additional classroom supplies. The next 25 schools with the most votes will each receive 5,000 Bonus Box Tops coupons (redeemable for cash by schools). To register your school or vote for a local K-8 school, visit: http://givebacktoschools.avery.com/schools/index.

Teacher Monday: Cash for Classrooms
In an effort to get school children across North America to eat healthier, Del Monte Fresh Produce will hold its second annual “Teacher Monday: Cash for Classrooms” online contest this October and November. This contest encourages kindergarten through 12th grade school teachers to incorporate healthy eating and living messages into classroom activities. Beginning in late July, teachers can register at http://www.fruits.com/home.aspx, submit a short essay on how they will incorporate healthy eating messages into their lesson plans, and then encourage all their fans to vote for them online. Ten winners will be selected each Monday for six consecutive weeks in October and November, 2011. Winners are based solely on the number of votes they receive. Winning teachers will receive $750 in cash to purchase school supplies and $250 in Del Monte fresh fruit coupons for classroom snacks and to use in fruit educational activities.

Susan's Schedule

Week of July 25 – Superintendent Castillo spoke with administrators at the Eastern Oregon Executive Summit in Pendleton, met with the East Oregonian, Baker City Herald, La Grande Observer, Ken Kennedy at KCMB Radio in La Grande, and La Grande Superintendent Larry Glaze and board members: Merle Comfort, Mike Berglund, John Sprenger, Mike Frasier and Greg Blackman.

Week of August 1 – Susan met with the US Department of Education who was visiting regarding Oregon’s Statewide Longitudinal Data System, released preliminary Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) data, and spoke at the COSA/ODE Assessment Conference in Eugene.

Week of August 8 – Susan will interview with Greg Copeland of NW Cable News and will speak at the national conference of the State Higher Education Executive Officers on Common Core State Standards in San Francisco.

The June/July 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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