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9/29/2011 8:08:00 AM
Superintendent's Update #349
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:
  • Inviting Innovation: US Department of Education Offers NCLB Flexibility
  • Closing the Achievement Gap: Spotlight on M.A. Lynch Elementary
  • Oregon Diploma Talk
  • Opportunities and Financial Resources for Students and Schools
  • Susan’s Schedule

Inviting Innovation: US Department of Education Offers NCLB Flexibility
By Susan Castillo

Last Friday, I was invited by President Obama to join him and other education leaders at the White House for a national announcement on education and the changes needed to the No Child Left Behind Act. In his address, the President announced that states will now have increased flexibility and opportunities for innovation under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, formerly known as No Child Left Behind.

Obamaannouncement' I agree with the President that No Child Left Behind had the right goals—accountability, high standards for all kids, and a focus on closing the achievement gap—but I also agree that there are real challenges with this decade-old law. This law is well over due for reform. Congress was scheduled to reauthorize NCLB four years ago but has yet to do so. And while I strongly believe that Congressional action would be the best solution, I am grateful to the President and the US Department of Education for stepping up to give states some much needed flexibility—flexibility that allows us to build an accountability system rooted in college- and career-ready goals which can take our education system to the next level. As the President said in his address, our kids only get one shot at an education and we cannot afford to wait any longer to reform this law.

The President understands that as we look at improving educational outcomes in our nation, we need a system that supports and encourages innovation, that rewards rather than penalizes increasing our standards, and that puts the focus back on learning and individual student growth. Our state has made a firm commitment to college- and career-ready standards for all kids with the implementation of the Essential Skills and the adoption of the Common Core State Standards. With this new flexibility, we will finally be able to have an accountability system that is anchored in these goals and both recognizes the good work and growth going on in our schools and identifies those areas needing focus and improvement.

Governor Kitzhaber and I are already working on a federal waiver proposal to provide Oregon schools with the flexibility they deserve as they work to reach these critical goals. While there are still details to be figured out, I look forward to working with our education partners around the state as well as our colleagues at the US Department of Education on developing an accountability system that builds on all of the great work going on in our state and around the country. I look forward to sharing more details of our proposal in the coming months.

To learn more about the President’s proposal, please see the White House press release and fact sheet.

Closing the Achievement Gap: Spotlight on M.A. Lynch Elementary
By Susan Castillo

This feature highlights high poverty and/or minority schools recognized in 2011 for their progress in closing the academic achievement gap.

A decade ago, M.A. Lynch Elementary had one of the higher socioeconomic statuses in the Redmond School District. But demographic shifts and boundary changes have changed all that, and today 74% of the school’s students are economically disadvantaged. At first, the Lynch staff continued working as hard as ever, but student performance started slipping until the school was failing to meet the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) benchmark. “We weren’t doing anything different,” says Principal Desiree Margo. “We had to change.”

The school community rallied and revamped, and in the past three years, Lynch has emerged from federal AYP “improvement status.” Last year, the school improved its Oregon Report Card rating from Satisfactory to Outstanding.

MA “We’re really in the mode of figuring out how to sustain what we’re doing,” Margo says. “As we look at next steps, every day we look at what we can do better. We don’t have time to rest on our laurels. We pat ourselves on the back and keep moving forward.”

A huge factor in Lynch’s turnaround has been its rebranding as a full-service “community school,” expanding before and after school programs for students and families. Because many students come to school struggling academically, maximizing instructional time is key to catching them up. About 50 students participate in the morning program and another 200 are involved in the after-school program, which mixes enrichment, such as sports and art, with academic sessions run by teachers from the school.

Lynch runs evening Parent University programs twice a week, ranging from a GED program in Spanish, to workshops on parenting or how to cope with stress. The Family Access Network provides an on-site social worker who works with families. The school partners with the Deschutes County Health Department to run a school-based health clinic, where students can access services ranging from check-ups to immunizations. The school also plays host to a Head Start preschool program.

“The school is really the hub for leveraging all the resources we have to meet the needs of students,” says David Salciccioli, the community school coordinator.

MA The Redmond district runs five such community schools, using an array of partnerships and funding sources.

“You have to see the school as being owned by the community,” said Salciccioli. “It creates more work, from the teachers to the custodians. But that’s what it takes to make sure our kids are succeeding – academically, emotionally, and socially.”

“We know the community school is what has made the difference,” says Margo. “We’re looking at ways to sustain what we’re doing... If this works, why wouldn’t we continue to find ways to keep it going?” And sustainability isn’t just a matter of money, Margo notes. “It’s really about opening your doors to the outside world,” she says. “I do think anybody can do it, if you’re willing to open your doors – and that’s a big piece.”

Lynch has also tapped into a valuable resource at Redmond High, with over two dozen high school students trained to work with Lynch kids on reading.

“The students at our school get excited about reading with the high school students; they beg for them,” says Julie Rietz, a 2nd grade teacher who coordinates the five day a week program. “It’s also a great opportunity for the high school students to learn to teach, to be responsible, and to give more back to our community.”

Despite having three principals in the past three years, Lynch has continued to make progress – a testament to the leadership that comes from the staff, which boasts a balance of veteran and newer teachers. “The key is collaboration,” says Tom Wrightman, instructional coach. Wrightman supports teacher data teams by digging into the data and getting the teachers the information they’re looking for to adapt instruction to what students need. “Over time,” Wrightman adds, “the conversations have become a lot deeper, really focused on student achievement and instructional practices – ‘is what I’m doing working?’ We hear a lot about data-driven instruction, but seeing it working in practice is really something.”

“Just the transparency of the data, the willingness to share how their students are doing, has made a big difference,” says Margo. “We have a staff that always says, ‘whatever it takes.’”

Click here to learn more about M.A. Lynch and other schools closing the achievement gap. Also on the website are inspiring short videos of our Closing the Achievement Gap schools. Visit the site to learn more about each school’s story!

Oregon Diploma Talk
This item highlights key topics relating to the Oregon diploma and the Common Core State Standards.

What Do the Common Core State Standards Mean for Me?

Though the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were adopted nearly a year ago, not every Oregonian has the same level of awareness of the CCSS and what they mean for education. To assist districts in communicating about the CCSS with their communities, one page “flyers” for six unique audiences have been created: administrators, teachers, parents, students, school boards, and business/community members. Each is designed as an introduction to the Common Core, providing information about the CCSS specific to each group.

Copies of these flyers are available on the CCSS Communications page of the ODE website at http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=3265.

Opportunities and Financial Resources for Students and Schools

OUS Admissions Reps Tour State to Help Students Understand College Options
Thousands of high school students across Oregon are learning about their in-state college options this month as admissions representatives from Oregon’s public universities take part in the annual Visitation Program. A statewide tour to engage and inspire Oregon’s high school students to explore their many degree opportunities, the Oregon University System’s (OUS) month-long “Fall Tour” launched on September 26th and runs through October 28th. In 2010, it is estimated that over 20,000 students participated in these outreach events and a similar number is expected this year. Oregon high schools students from 250 participating high schools will take part in Tour presentations this year, and students and school leaders are encouraged to mark their calendars to be sure they don’t miss the events serving their area. Oregon high schools that are not currently on the schedule of visitations as well as home schooled students are encouraged to attend one of the Campus Plan presentations.

Go to www.ous.edu/stucoun/counres/visit for the full schedule of the tour, and links to materials such as the OUS Viewbook. The OUS Viewbook brochure provides a comprehensive overview of Oregon's public university options, including profiles of each institution, academic programs, as well as information on admission, costs, deadlines, and financial aid opportunities. Schools and counselors are encouraged to share the online ebook version of the Viewbook at secure.ous.edu/viewbook/ with students and families. For more information on any of the Fall Tour events, contact Susan Stumpf at sstumpf@uoregon.edu eMail

National Center for Urban School Transformation Seeks Nominations
The National Center for Urban School Transformation is dedicated to discovering, recognizing, and learning from the nation’s very best urban schools through its National Excellence in Urban Education Award program. The award is given annually to a small number of public schools and public charter schools to: recognize and reward exceptional urban school educators and students; provide a benchmark of excellence that motivates reform efforts; and expand the knowledge base of best practices for promoting urban school transformation.

The National Center for Urban School Transformation is now accepting applications for the 2012 award, and is encouraging top-performing urban school leaders to review their award criteria and apply. Applications are due by November 18, 2011. The prize package for winning schools includes a $2,500 cash award, a large school banner, a framed certificate, a commemorative photo book, and travel costs to San Diego for the principal and superintendent to the Excellence in Urban Education Symposium May 23-25, 2012.Send questions to ncust@mail.sdsu.edu eMail or call 619-594-8255.

Get 2009-10 Oregon Blue Books
State Archives has a limited number of Oregon Blue Books left at the great price of only $15 for a case of 20 books. The Oregon Blue Book is Oregon’s official fact book and almanac published every two years since 1911 by the Secretary of State’s office. It contains everything you ever wanted to know about Oregon’s economy, executive, legislative & judicial branches, election history, state history, public education, all 242 cities and 36 counties, and government finance. The Almanac section lists facts such as highest mountains, longest rivers, state bird, animal, nut, flower, beverage, shell, Oregon’s Olympic medal winners, renewable energy plants, and so much more. To reserve a case, get an order form, or arrange a pick, please contact Julie Yamaka at State Archives at Julie.a.yamaka@state.or.us eMail or 503-378-5199.

Susan's Schedule

Week of September 19 – Superintendent Susan Castillo, at the request of President Obama, traveled to DC for the President’s national address on new No Child Left Behind flexibility for states. While in DC, Susan also met with Senator Wyden.

Week of September 26 – Susan participated in Council of Chief State School Officer (CCSSO) and US Department of Education (USDOE) calls relating to the US Department’s flexibility package, and traveled to DC for the CCSSO and USDOE meetings on the flexibility package.

Week of October 3 – Susan will speak at the ODE/COSA Special Education Conference in Eugene, speak at the Annual ASPIRE Conference, and meet with her Youth Advisory Team members.

The September 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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