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10/14/2011 8:26:00 AM
Superintendent's Update #350
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:
  • Oregon Teacher of the Year Announced
  • School and District Report Cards Provide Key Information on Oregon Schools
  • Oregon Diploma Talk
  • Opportunities and Financial Resources for Students and Schools
  • Susan’s Schedule

Oregon Teacher of the Year Announced
By Susan Castillo

Yesterday morning, I had the honor of announcing that Elena Garcia-Velasco, a Spanish Language Arts teacher at Roosevelt High School in Portland, has been named the 2011-12 Oregon Teacher of the Year. Each year, I have the pleasure of selecting one Oregon teacher to represent the best that this profession has to offer. Standing in that auditorium and seeing the respect and admiration shared by students and faculty alike for this outstanding educator, I knew we had found someone very special.
The Oregon Teacher of the Year is one teacher who stands for many—a teacher who exemplifies the qualities we look for in an outstanding educator, mentor, and leader. Elena Garcia-Velasco is all of these things and more. She is a passionate and dedicated educator with a deep commitment to equity, closing the academic achievement gap, and helping all of her students achieve at high levels. A leader in her school and district, Elena works tirelessly to help her students learn, grow, and achieve their dreams.

Elena teaches Spanish Language Arts at the Spanish English International School (SEIS), one of Roosevelt’s three small schools. SEIS serves a highly diverse, high-poverty, highly mobile student population—a population traditionally underrepresented in advanced coursework. But in Ms. Garcia-Velasco’s classes, students are challenged to perform at high levels, analyzing extremely complex pieces of literature, writing sophisticated compositions, and connecting their lessons with current issues and the world around them.

teacher Elena Garcia-Velasco knows that rigorous coursework is the best preparation her students can have for their futures, and she is credited with helping to create a college-going culture among her students and their families. Many of her students enter high school not seeing college as an option; Elena is motivated to change that. And change it she does. One recent student was not only the first in his family to graduate from high school, but thanks to the strong foundation he received at SEIS, he received a full scholarship to Brown University.

Elena epitomizes the involved and accessible teacher. She is available to her students and their families before and after school, and she even leads a weekend study group for students who want to go deeper into the content or just need a bit of extra help. In addition to her teaching duties, she participates in multiple school committees, has served as a key leader in curriculum development, and leads instructional workshops for the school district.

As Oregon’s Teacher of the Year, Elena will attend the National Teacher of the Year forum in Washington, D.C. where she will meet President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. And thanks to the generous support of our Teacher of the Year sponsor, American Institutes for Research (AIR), we are able to offer Elena a $5,000 cash award as part of this recognition. In addition to the monetary award, Elena will receive a package of SMART Board technology tools and training on how to use them.

Please join me in congratulating Elena Garcia-Velasco for this well deserved award! To learn more about the Teacher of the Year program or past Oregon Teachers of the Year, please visit: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=227.

School and District Report Cards Provide Key Information on Oregon Schools
By Susan Castillo

Last week, I released the report card ratings for Oregon’s K-12 public schools. These annual report cards provide parents and community members with valuable information about their schools including state test results, federal ratings, attendance or graduation rates, and information on student growth.

reading Our schools are working incredibly hard to meet higher state and federal standards, but as anticipated, fewer Oregon schools received an Outstanding rating on the report card this year. We have raised the bar in math, toughened graduation standards, and asked our schools to meet more challenging federal expectations. We have done all of this because we know these higher standards are the right thing for our students and our state. There is clearly still work to be done to get all of our students and schools to meet this higher bar—but as I look at the gains in student achievement we saw this year, I know our schools are on the right track.

The Oregon School Report Cards are designed to encapsulate all of the most important information about our schools and present it in one easy to use format—a one-stop-shop, if you will—providing a comprehensive look at how our schools are doing. These reports can provide us with valuable information about our schools’ strengths and weaknesses, but no report can truly sum up a school. We can capture test results and demographics but we can’t capture the spirit, passion, and dedication of our teachers and school staff. If you have questions about anything you see in these report cards, I encourage you to visit your local school, talk to the staff, and see firsthand the work that is going on there.

The School and District Report Cards represent Oregon’s main state-developed accountability system, incorporating features not offered in federal systems, including the ability to track individual student growth and learning. Student learning and growth are key to a successful education system, and as Oregon moves forward with a federal No Child Left Behind waiver proposal, the Oregon School Report Card will provide a strong starting point for that work.

Currently, we are required to produce separate federal and state reports on how our students and schools are doing. These different accountability systems are confusing and do not provide the clarity and consistency our schools and communities deserve. In our waiver request, we will pursue a streamlined system with a single, unified report on the progress of our schools.

To view your school or district’s report card, go to: http://www.ode.state.or.us/data/reportcard/reports.aspx.

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

Common Core Resource Web Pages for English and Math

Are you an English Language Arts or Math teacher who wants to learn more about the Common Core State Standards? If so, check out our new Math and English Common Core resource pages! Organized around three topics, these pages provide a bounty of resources for both educators and administrators.

Tools for Awareness & Understanding offer materials for understanding CCSS content and organization,
Tools for Transitioning provide resources for comparing CCSS to Oregon standards, district curricula, and instructional materials, and
Tools for Action offer materials and resources for implementing CCSS in the classroom.

Resources for ELA & Literacy are available at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=3359.
Resources for Math are available at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=3403.

Opportunities and Financial Resources for Students and Schools

Safety Video Contest for Oregon High School Students
High school students across Oregon are invited to enter the annual “Save a Friend. Work Safe.” video contest. The top three entries will take home cash prizes ranging from $300 to $500 and students will earn a matching amount for their school. The contest is designed to increase awareness about safety on the job for young people. Students must create a 45-second public service announcement with the overall theme of “Save a Friend. Work Safe.” Participants are encouraged to use humor, creativity, and share the message “Speak Up!” while emphasizing ways to protect themselves at work. Specific video guidelines are outlined in the contest rules at http://www.orosha.org/psacontest/. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 1, 2012.

Matching Book Grant Program
The Literacy Empowerment Foundation (LEF) is offering a Matching Book Grant Program of up to $20,000 per school. This means a school can now order $40,000 worth of books and pay only $20,000. (Any amount up to $20,000 will be matched.) The Matching Book Grant Program offers Guided Reading and Independent Reading Collections. Guided Reading Collections consist of 6 copies each of 24 titles (144 books total). Independent Reading Collections consist of one copy each of 144 titles. With each set of Guided Reading and/or Independent Reading Collections purchased at the regular price, an additional set of your choice will be included free of charge. Offer expires December 31, 2011. Learn more at: http://www.lefbooks.org/matching_book_grants/.

Seeking Nominations for English and Math Instructional Materials Committees
The Oregon Department of Education is looking for nominations of teachers, curriculum specialists, and others who have interest and experience in English Language Arts and Mathematics to participate in the development of instructional materials criteria. There is a 1-day meeting scheduled for each subject area with reimbursed travel and substitute coverage. Click here PDF for the Nomination Recommendation Form (to be completed by a superintendent or principal). Click here PDF for the Nominee Acceptance Form (to be completed by the nominee once they have been recommended by a superintendent or principal). For more information, contact Drew Hinds eMail at (503) 947-5799 or Paula Merritt eMail at (503) 947-5746.

Susan's Schedule

Week of October 10 – Superintendent Susan Castillo attended the Oregon Education Investment work group meeting, had a lunch meeting with Statewide Elected Officials, participated in the Education Agency Heads meeting, participated in US Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s visit to Portland, attending a town hall with educators at HB Lee Middle School and his keynote speech at the Oregon Business Association annual Statesman Dinner. Superintendent Castillo also announced the 2011-12 Oregon Teacher of the Year at Roosevelt High School. Congratulations to this year’s Teacher of the Year Elena Garcia-Velasco!

Week of October 17 – Susan will participate in the Next Generation Accountability work group and will participate in the State Board of Education meeting. Susan will also attend the 2011 Women of Achievement recognition ceremony in the Governor’s Office. Susan nominated one of this year’s Women of Achievement recipients, Minalee Saks, Executive Director of Birth To Three - a nationally recognized non-profit parenting education and support program dedicated to strengthening families.

The October 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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