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Press Release: December 15, 2011

Education report to legislature: action needed to deliver better outcomes for students, from pre-kindergarten through college and career readiness 


(Salem, OR) —  Legislative action in February 2012 to streamline early childhood programs and create a system of accountability for student success from pre-kindergarten through K-12 to college and career readiness tops the list of recommendations of Oregon Learns, a report delivered today to the Oregon Legislature by the Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB).

The board’s report calls for far greater coordination in public education and a committed focus on improving student outcomes: “If we are to fulfill the promise of educational opportunity and keep pace with the world around us, we must find ways to improve the teaching and spark the learning of all students, now and every year hereafter.”

“We must create a culture of educational excellence across the state,” said Governor Kitzhaber, who chairs the OEIB. “We are making progress. I applaud the hard work of educators and community leaders on the Oregon Education Investment Board, and I look forward to working with the legislature to implement the board’s recommendations to benefit students from pre-kindergarten through college and career readiness.”

The 2011 Legislature adopted a goal for Oregon: That by 2025, 40 percent of adult Oregonians would have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, that 40 percent have earned an associate’s degree or post-secondary credential and that the remaining 20 percent (or fewer) will have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent. (Senate Bill 253)

To meet those ambitious goals, the Legislature charged the Oregon Education Investment Board with creating and overseeing a coordinated system of public education for learners of all ages – from early childhood through K-12 and on to college and university level. (Senate Bill 909)

The December 15 report from the OEIB outlines the challenges facing Oregon education, shares the board’s progress and next steps, and endorses legislation for 2012 that would:

  • Streamline early childhood programs to ensure more children get the health care, pre-school, nutritional and developmental services they need to be ready for kindergarten.The Early Learning Council has recommended coordinating disparate programs to meet common goals, and eliminating outdated process mandates and redundant boards and commissions. The Council has recommended a competitive process for accountable, community-based service partnerships focused on outcomes for children, with a firm limit on administrative costs to put the most money possible into direct services.
  • Organize a system of accountability and support to ensure student success.  The board proposes to create achievement compacts between the state and the educational institutions, starting in 2012-13. These new partnership agreements would set goals and report results on measures of progress at all stages of learning and for all groups of learners. This would foster accountability, help identify excellent practices for broader adoption and highlight where the state should offer additional support or guidance. For K-12 school districts, the achievement compacts would provide an alternative framework for accountability under a flexibility waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Also, under the proposed legislation, the Chief Education Officer – a post created in 2011 legislation, and which the OEIB plans to fill by April – would have clear authority to lead the creation of the coordinated public education system.

In the Oregon Education Investment Board report and the companion Early Learning Council report, the two panels also laid out further actions planned for 2012, following the direction of SB909. Those include:

  • Piloting an early-kindergarten readiness assessment in eight to 12 school districts, to measure how ready students are when they start school. This could be rolled out statewide in 2013.
  • Establishing common screening tools for use in medical offices and by social services providers, to better identify young children most in need of support and keep kids from falling through the cracks of program bureaucracy.
  • Aligning standards and accountability for the state’s Birth-to-Three program and Oregon Pre-Kindergarten with federal Head Start standards, and ensuring those all align with the Common Core Standards for K-12 education.
  • Developing an outcomes-based P-20 education system budget proposal for 2013-15 that defines the core educational outcomes that matter for students, their families and the state, which then drive the investment strategies.
  • Implementing the first phase of a longitudinal student information database to track Oregon’s progress toward defined educational goals, with the ability to calculate a “return on investment” based on the dollars spent and the student educational gains measured.
  • Replacing the punitive aspects of NCLB with a more supportive and productive accountability system, with achievement compacts, federal measures and the state’s new school report cards aligned.
  • Streamlining governance of high education, so that one board or commission offers direction and coordination for the Oregon University System, and allowing universities to establish independent boards for their institutions if they wish. (Legislation will be proposed for 2013.)
  • Strengthening the connection between educational institutions and human services delivery, to better support students of all ages who face challenges of poverty, health, hunger, homelessness and other needs that limit their educational success.

Both the Oregon Education Investment Board and the Early Learning Council formed this fall. But their recommendations build on work dating back more than a year, to the Governor’s transition teams and work teams formed early in 2011 to address early learning, the education budget, and a coordinated education system for pre-kindergarten through college and career readiness. Educators, students, parents, researchers, employers, service providers and education advocates have participated on the OEIB, ELC, and precursor work teams. Public testimony, surveys and meetings in communities across Oregon have helped shape the reports.
The Oregon Education Investment Board is planning further community meetings in January, open to all, to discuss these proposals and the direction of Oregon’s education system. Dates and locations will be announced once final, at www.education.oregon.gov.

Media Contacts:
Tim Raphael, 503-689-6117
Amy Wojcicki, 503-689-5324

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