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3/15/2012 1:20:00 AM
Superintendent's Update #356
Superintendent's Update

Welcome to Superintendent Castillo's monthly update which highlights the hard work and achievements of schools across Oregon. The Superintendent's Update also gives you the latest information on important initiatives facing Oregon educators, administrators, and students.

Here’s what you’ll find in this issue:

  • Oregon Blind Students First in Nation with Access to Online Adaptive Testing
  • Oregon Schools Honored for Commitment to Wellness
  • Earthquake Awareness Month
  • Oregon Diploma Talk
  • Opportunities and Financial Resources for Students and Schools
  • Susan’s Schedule

Oregon Blind Students First in Nation with Access to Online Adaptive Testing
By Susan Castillo

This year, for the first time in Oregon history, our blind students have access to the state’s online adaptive test system. Before this school year, Oregon’s blind students took their state tests using printed Braille assessments. Now, thanks to years of work by dedicated staff, educators, and partners, we have provided access not only to our online testing system but also to critical technical tools that will help our students prepare for their futures. Oregon’s online, adaptive testing system has long been seen as a model in the nation, and now, for the first time, this system is available to all Oregon kids.

Braille The new OAKS Online Braille Interface, designed by Oregon’s test vendor and partner American Institutes for Research (AIR), allows Oregon’s blind students to access the same online test and the same number of testing opportunities as their sighted classmates. In addition, Oregon’s online testing system is adaptive, meaning that each student’s test is unique and adapts to the level of difficulty most appropriate for that student. Oregon’s adaptive testing system provides a more precise measure of what students know and are able to do and provides students and teachers with immediate feedback on whether or not a student has met standard. In the past, Braille users had to work their way through thick stacks of printed test pages and students could only take the test once.

For the past two years, we have worked closely with the American Institutes for Research, along with educators, content experts, vision teachers, Braillists, and students from around the state, to design and launch this new test. And thanks to funding from the Blind and Visually Impaired Student Fund, which was created after the sale of the Oregon School for the Blind, Oregon’s K-12 Braille users now have access to a range of technology tools which can be used for both testing and instruction.

While a few other states have offered online Braille tests to students, Oregon is the first to offer an online, adaptive test to Braille users. As the nation moves toward common assessments to test students on the new Common Core State Standards, there will be a need for a nationally recognized online Braille assessment. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium will be conducting a case study of Oregon’s new Braille interface this spring to examine the possibility of using it as a model for national use.

For the full press release on this topic, click here. For more information on the OAKS Online Braille Interface, please visit: http://www.ode.state.or.us/go/braille.

Photo: Damanti Burfict, an 8th grader at LaCreole Middle School in Dallas, is one of the students who has used the new testing system.

Oregon Schools Honored for Commitment to Wellness
By Susan Castillo wellness'

This week, I had the honor of announcing the 2012 School Wellness Award recipients. This year’s awardees are Bonanza School in the Klamath County School District, James John Elementary in Portland Public Schools, and John Muir School in the Ashland School District. We know that good nutrition, exercise, and general health and wellness play a critical role in students’ ability to come to school ready to learn. The staff and students at these three schools are shining examples of this commitment to student heath. Their wellness policies have contributed to more alert and involved students, a school culture of health and activity, and students ready and eager to learn. These schools can serve as a model for the rest of the state as we all work to support better student wellness.

Bonanza is a K-12 school located in rural Klamath County. The school is on a journey to make good nutrition and physical education habits second nature to both students and teachers. Nutrition is not only taught at every grade but is also part of teacher’s professional development time. Staff are encouraged to model healthy eating and exercise habits, and a number of wellness programs have been set up for school staff. The school also offers a range of physical activity programs for students including in-class energizer breaks, jog-a-thons, Jump Rope for PE, Walk and Bike to school days, and “Walk Across America” where students add up their laps throughout the year to figuratively cross the continent. bikes'The school joined the Alliance for a Healthier Generation last year and received a “Bronze Award” for their progress.

James John Elementary is a highly diverse K-5 school in the historic St. Johns neighborhood. A nourishing breakfast is offered to all students at the start of the school day and the school’s lunch program has received national recognition for its innovation, creativity, and focus on healthy, nutritious, minimally processed foods. The school also offers an afternoon snack each day that promotes fresh fruits and vegetables. Nutrition programs include Harvest of the Month and family cooking programs. The school offers a range of physical activity programs including in-class energizer breaks, Jump Rope 4 Heart, Run-for-the-Arts, Shape Up Across Oregon, a recess running club called the Pride Striders, and encouraging students to walk and bike to school. The school’s mantra is “Exercise is good for you, good for your body and good for your brain!”

John Muir School is a K-8 arts and natural science magnet school with a strong focus on outdoor education, exercise, and local, fresh, nutritious foods. Nutrition is integrated into the curriculum school-wide through units on things like seeds, trees, milk, the human body, and sustainability. Hands-on nutrition education is also available through the school garden, the Rogue Valley Farm to School Program, and presentations from local organic gardeners. The school participates in a range of physical activity programs including encouraging walking and biking to school and weekly outdoor education experiences which can include walking, hiking, backpacking, camping, rappelling, snowshoeing and skiing.

This is the fifth year of the Oregon School Wellness Awards. Click here to learn more.

Earthquake Awareness Month
By Susan Castillo

In recognition of the one-year anniversary of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, the Governor has declared March 2012 Earthquake and Tsunami Awareness Month. The terrible events in Japan last year remain a sobering reminder of the potential dangers of large earthquakes and tsunamis and the urgent need to ensure our communities—and our schools—are ready. earthquake' Unfortunately, many of our schools are far from prepared for such a disaster.

We learned more about the safety of our schools five years ago when the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries release its Statewide Seismic Needs Assessment of public school buildings. This report highlighted the schools most at risk of collapse or damage in the event of a serious earthquake. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, little action has been taken to address these risks.

This spring, the Legislature passed SB 1566 PDF, a bill sponsored by Senate President Peter Courtney that is designed to increase the visibility of the Statewide Seismic Needs Assessment findings and to help school districts throughout Oregon identify vulnerable schools that need priority attention.

This legislation will help keep public focus on this critical issue. Far too many of our school buildings are not designed to withstand these types of natural disasters. The safety of our students is too important for us to ignore this issue any further. I urge you to get involved, learn about the seismic safety of the schools in your community, and join together to help get this critical work done.

For a letter from Deputy Superintendent, Ed Dennis on this topic, click here PDF.

Photo: Destruction from the 2008 earthquake in China.

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

College: Yes You Can/ Universidad: ¡Sí Se Puede!
Local middle school students and their families are invited to a free bilingual event on how to plan for and pay for college. Representatives from numerous Oregon colleges and universities will be at Chemeketa Community College and Linn Benton Community college to offer fun informational sessions on how to get started on exploring and preparing for college and career options. These events will include exciting speakers, fun activities, and free lunch and refreshments for all participants.

FREE. Pre-registration highly recommended, especially if requesting assistance with child care, transportation, or disability accommodation. For more information, call 541-346-5725. Para hablar con alguien en español, llame a Norma Sánchez-Bravo, al (503) 838-8193.

Saturday, April 21, 2012, 9am-2pm, Chemeketa Community College, main campus in Salem
Saturday, May 12, 2012, 9am-2pm, Linn Benton Community College, main campus in Albany

The event is organized by the Oregon Middle School Outreach Consortium, a statewide partnership of Oregon colleges and universities, including: Chemeketa Community College, Lane Community College, Linn Benton Community College, Mt. Hood Community College, Oregon Health and Science University, Oregon State University, Portland Community College, Portland State University, University of Oregon, and Western Oregon University.

Opportunities and Financial Resources for Students and Schools

Nominate an outstanding K-6 Math Teacher
The National Science Foundation is currently accepting nominations and applications for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) program. PAEMST is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. Presidential awardees receive a certificate signed by the President of the United States, a trip for two to Washington DC to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation. Awardees also join an active network of outstanding educators from throughout the Nation. Anyone may nominate a teacher by completing the nomination form available on the PAEMST website. The nomination deadline is April 1, 2012. The Application Deadline is May 1, 2012 for elementary school teachers (Grades K-6). Secondary school teachers (Grades 7-12) are eligible to apply in 2013.

Teacher Nominations for 2012 Common Core State Standards Instructional Materials Review
The Oregon Department of Education is requesting the nomination of teachers, curriculum specialists, and others who have interest and experience with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English/Language Arts (ELA) and/or Mathematics. Participation will involve working with a team to review instructional materials intended to support implementation of the CCSS. The review process is scheduled for July 30 to August 5, 2012, at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Oregon and involves a 5 day or less commitment with meals, travel reimbursement, and a paid stipend. The group will evaluate materials aligned with the above subjects to be considered for adoption by the State Board of Education in October 2012. Access the Nomination Form at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WYXBHS2 (To be completed by supervisor, principal or superintendent.) Access the Nominee Info Form at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WTTF8NY (To be completed by nominee after recommendation.) Questions? Contact Paula Merritt at (503) 947-5746, Paula.Merritt@state.or.us eMail or visit http://www.ode.state.or.us/go/InstructionalMaterials for more information.

Susan's Schedule

Week of March 5 – Superintendent Susan Castillo attended an Oregon Interagency Council on Hunger and Homelessness meeting; attended Oregon Education and Investment Board Achievement Compact Advisory Committee meeting; attended the Governor’s bill signing for SB1281 on Achievement Compacts; participated in the State Board of Education meeting; and met with March Kessler and Vicki Whebbe from the Education Credit Management Corporation Foundation regarding the ECMC Oregon scholars program.

Week of March 12 – Susan attended an Oregon Education and Investment Board meeting and met with staff regarding the federal ESEA waiver.

Week of March 19 – Susan will meet with Governor’s office education advisors and education agency heads.

The March 2012 issue of Superintendent's Pipeline is available on the ODE website.

Click here to access archived issues of Superintendent’s Update.

For scheduling inquiries, please visit our website at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?=848
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