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1/27/2012 2:25:00 PM
Superintendent's Update #354
Superintendent's Update

Superintendent Castillo's updates showcase the efforts and achievements of Oregon schools. Through these regular messages, 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 Graduation Rate Up and Dropout Rate Down
  • Oregon Submits ESEA Flexibility Waiver
  • Oregon Diploma Talk
  • Opportunities and Financial Resources for Students and Schools
  • Susan’s Schedule

Oregon Graduation Rate Up and Dropout Rate Down
By Susan Castillo

graduates' Today I released the graduation and dropout rates for Oregon schools. The good news is that more of our students are graduating within four years and fewer of our kids are dropping out of our state’s high schools. The on-time graduation rate for 2011 was 67%, up from 66% the previous year. And the dropout rate hit an all time low of 3.3%, down from 3.4% last year. In addition, we are seeing higher graduation rates and lower dropout rates for most of our state’s historically underperforming subgroups. Particularly exciting is the fact that the graduation rates for a number of these subgroups grew at a faster rate than the state overall which indicates a slight shrinking of the graduation gap.

But while these results are encouraging, there are still far too many of our kids not reaching this critical milestone. Despite the gains we have seen in recent years, we still have close to half of our Native American, African American, and Hispanic students not graduating on time. And while dropout rates are down, we still had 5,782 students drop out of our high schools last year. We clearly have a long way to go to ensure that all of our students graduate from high school ready for college and career.

Oregon teachers are working incredibly hard to support our students throughout their educational journey and we are starting to see that hard work pay off in today’s results. But we have to stay focused on our goal of all kids not only graduating from high school but graduating with the skills to succeed whether they go on to college, join the military, or go directly into workforce training. graduates'

Over the past several years we have raised the bar and asked more of our students with increased credit requirements and higher standards. But we know that seat time doesn’t necessarily equal mastery so we adopted the Essential Skills which require students to demonstrate proficiency in key areas in order to earn an Oregon diploma. This June, we will have our first class of graduates required to demonstrate their proficiency in reading in order to earn a diploma with the requirements for writing and math being phased-in over the next two years. We are asking our students to step up and perform at a higher level because we know that simply graduating from high school isn’t enough anymore. These requirements will help make sure that our students leave our schools with the knowledge and skills they need to compete, contribute, and thrive.

Find graduation rates for your school or district at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=2644.

Find dropout rates for your school or district at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=1.

This morning, I attended a press conference at Roosevelt High School in Portland to celebrate a 14 percentage increase in the school's graduation rate. Click here to learn more about their progress.

Oregon Submits ESEA Flexibility Waiver
By Susan Castillo

This week Governor Kitzhaber and I submitted Oregon’s draft waiver proposal to the US Department of Education for review. This proposal lays out a new vision for accountability and reporting in our state and moves us away from the cookie-cutter, one size fits all approach of No Child Left Behind. In place of the current Adequate Yearly Progress mandates, we are proposing a targeted system of interventions and supports designed to better serve our students and our schools.

graduates' Central to this proposal are what we are calling Achievement Compacts, district specific agreements that set ambitious but attainable achievement goals that will move our districts and our state toward the high levels of proficiency we know our students need. Our proposal retains the rigor and accountability key to moving our system forward while allowing our districts and schools increased flexibility on how they get there. And instead of the rigid sanctions required under AYP, our proposal calls for targeted interventions and mentoring to help support districts in their process of continuous improvement. This model also has a strong focus on growth, especially subgroup growth, as we continue to shine the light on the achievement gap and what it takes to make progress in that area.

We knew when we decided to pursue this flexibility waiver that we needed to have a broad base of stakeholder engagement to ensure the final proposal met the needs of our state. Over 100 stakeholders from education, business, and the greater community dedicated countless hours to designing, drafting, and refining this proposal. In addition, thousands of you shared your feedback on this process and our initial drafts via surveys and community meetings conducted over the past few months (6000 in the initial survey alone). I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this process; this would not have been possible without your dedication, expertise, and engagement. I also want to thank the Governor’s Office and Oregon Department of Education staff who helped coordinate this effort over the past several months.

The US Department of Education has indicated that they will review states’ initial proposals and then provide guidance on any changes or adjustments that are needed. We will continue to work with our partners at the federal level to finalize our plan with the hope of implementing this new system this coming school year. Again—to all of you who helped review this proposal, provided feedback, suggestions, concerns or support—thank you! With your help, we have been able to develop a new direction, vision, and roadmap for accountability in our state.

To learn more about the flexibility proposal, please visit: http://www.ode.state.or.us/go/nextgen.

Click here to access Governor Kitzhaber’s press release on the waiver submission.

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

Today, Oregon released new graduation and dropout rates. But what do these rates mean? How are these rates calculated and how does the graduation rate relate to the dropout rate?

Learn more about Oregon’s graduation and dropout rates and get answers to your questions by visiting our Frequently Asked Questions page at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/wma/superintendent/release/cohort-faq.pdf PDF.

Opportunities and Financial Resources for Students and Schools

Intel Schools of Distinction Awards
Every year, Intel honors U.S. schools demonstrating excellence in math and science education through innovative teaching and learning environments. To be considered as an Intel School of Distinction, schools must develop an environment and curricula that meet or exceed benchmarks put forth by national mathematics and science standards. Up to 18 finalists will receive a $5,000 cash grant and a trip to Washington, D.C. Six winners will be selected from the finalists and receive an additional $5,000 and one of these winners will be selected as the "Star Innovator" and will receive an additional $15,000 grant for a total top award of $25,000. The 2012 Intel Schools of Distinction Application process is now open. The deadline for applying is February 23, 2012. Click here to learn more or access the application. http://www.intel.com/about/corporateresponsibility/education/soda/index.htm?iid=sciencemath%20soda

Deadline Approaching for 2012 Environmental Education Program
The deadline is approaching fast to submit applications for the Oregon Community Foundation’s 2012 Environmental Education Program. On February 1, proposals are due for projects emphasizing Outdoor Exploration and Community Field Trips for fifth through eighth grades or Environmental Professional Development for teachers and volunteer mentors. Proposals for Overnight, Residential Outdoor School Programs for fifth and sixth grade students will be due on August 1. For more information, including instructions, applications, and descriptions of these project categories, visit http://www.oregoncf.org/enviro-ed.

Oregon University System Offers Grants to Oregon Middle & High Schools
The Oregon University System and the Engineering and Technology Industry Council have announced two pre-engineering grant opportunities for Oregon middle and high schools. These grants will support funding and teacher training for middle and high schools to start implementing the nationally-renowned pre-engineering in-class curricula of Project Lead The Way (PLTW) and will help high schools get started in developing an extracurricular engineering program through an innovative initiative called eCHAMP. Learn more about Project Lead the Way (middle schools & high schools) at: https://secure.ous.edu/bid/opportunities/105. Learn more about eCHAMP (high schools only) at: https://secure.ous.edu/bid/opportunities/124. Grantees will be determined through a competitive application process. Applications should be submitted by February 17, 2012 for PLTW and February 24, 2012 for eCHAMP. Awards will be announced by March 30, 2012, and the grant period is through June 2013. More information can be found at http://www.ous.edu/news/011012 and http://www.oregonetic.org/grant-info.

Susan's Schedule

Week of January 16 – Superintendent Castillo participated in various meetings with Governor’s Office staff and participated in the State Board of Education meeting where she and Ben Cannon, Governor Kitzhaber’s Education Policy Advisor, presented on the draft Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility request.

Week of January 23 – Susan participated in various meetings with Governor’s Office staff; approved the ESEA flexibility request and submitted it to the US Department of Education for review; attended a Birth To Three Board Meeting; participated in the Oregon Education Investment Board’s community forum in Eugene; released graduation and dropout data for Oregon, and spoke at Roosevelt High School’s press event on their graduation rate.

Week of January 30 – Susan will participate in a call with the SMARTER Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) which is a state-led consortium working to develop next-generation assessments that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Susan will meet with Eduardo Angulo, Executive Director of the Salem-Keizer Coalition for Equality; she plans to speak at the Equity in Oregon Education ACTION! Rally on the Capitol Steps; and will speak at Concord Elementary to help recognize their 2011 National Distinguished School Award in Milwaukie.

The January 2012 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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