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April 2017 Education Update

Oregon Achieves... Together!

A Message from Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor

A Renewed Focus on Assessment for Learning

Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor

It’s hard to believe we are entering the final months of the 2016-2017 school year. For many of you, a portion of this springtime window will be devoted to testing. Although assessment is an important part of the teaching and learning process, I want to acknowledge the fact that for the past 15 years under the No Child Left Behind Act, the focus on state tests has been greatly magnified. For many educators, this increased attention has taken away from instructional time.  As we look ahead, however, to the implementation of our new Oregon Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, I want to share with you our vision for assessment, including our state’s renewed commitment to a balanced assessment system – one that prioritizes and supports assessment for learning.

In several conversations with stakeholders – students, families, educators, board members, and community members from around the state – measuring student and school progress  has been identified as a key priority. Many Oregonians have asked the state to invest in and support a more well-rounded approach to measuring student progress, including formative and interim assessments. Additionally, stakeholders overwhelmingly have urged the state to explore the option of using a nationally recognized college readiness assessment such as the ACT or SAT, in place of Smarter Balanced, as the high school accountability measure. This input further validates and reinforces the recommendations put forth in the framework “A New Path for Oregon: System of Assessment to Empower Meaningful Student Learning,”  developed collaboratively by partners from the Governor’s Office, the Chief Education Office, the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators, the Oregon Education Association, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), district advisors and other educators from across the state.

As we continue our efforts to improve and strengthen the quality of our state assessment system, we are prepared to replace Smarter Balanced at the high school level with a nationally recognized assessment for the 2018-19 school year. ODE will be  reviewing and considering assessment options such as the ACT, SAT and others that meet our quality  requirements and the criteria established in ESSA. The Department will begin this process by issuing a Request for Information this spring, followed by a Request for Proposals later this summer. We want you to know that we heard you, and believe this new direction will reduce the testing burden and potentially expand opportunities for students to use state assessment results for college admission purposes as well.  

Finally, I want to assure you that we will do this work together. In the coming weeks,  ODE will provide additional information regarding timeline, transition plan and implementation. We will keep you posted every step of the way. Once a new assessment has been identified, we will also convene our state Technical Advisory Committee to assist with subsequent implementation work,  ensuring students and their success remain the primary consideration in our collective decisions and actions. Thank you for your leadership and your commitment to supporting all students and quality education in our state. 

ODE Welcomes New Assistant Superintendent of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

On April 13, Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor announced that Dr. Darryl S. Tukufu will serve as Assistant Superintendent for the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, effective May 8, 2017. Dr. Tukufu is currently an assistant professor of sociology at Bethel University in Tennessee. He previously served at Victory University in Memphis as: executive director of pre-college programs, vice president for external affairs and chief diversity officer, vice president for academic affairs, executive director of the intercultural dialog council, and associate professor of urban studies and sociology. He is a certified diversity professional (CDP), having earned his certification at Cleveland State University.

This won’t be Dr. Tukufu’s first position in Oregon. In the 1990s, he served as adjunct faculty at Portland State University and Marylhurst College, where he taught black studies and social science. He also served as president and chief executive officer of the Urban League of Portland, an executive role he also fulfilled with Urban League affiliates in Memphis and Nashville, TN. He reorganized the Memphis Urban League to champion K-12 education, providing tutors, mentors and speakers for district programs.

Dr. Tukufu visited Salem April 17 and 18 to meet with ODE staff and begin his transition. We look forward to sharing more about the work Dr. Tukufu and his staff are doing in upcoming issues of Education Update. 

State Board Urges School Districts to Adopt Resolutions Affirming Safe, Welcoming Schools

State Board Chairman Charles Martinez, Jr. at a Board meeting

The State Board of Education continues its work to improve Education Equity in Oregon. At its meeting on March 23, the Board unanimously adopted a resolution affirming that schools are safe, welcoming environments. The resolution includes urgent requests that school boards adopt similar resolutions, that districts make sure their policies are in line with the resolution, that district staff receive proper training on those policies and that they communicate those policies to their communities.

“These are not demands, there are no rules here,” State Board Chairman Charles Martinez. “I recognize that not every district is likely to – for a whole lot of factors – pass a resolution that mirrors this. But I do think that encouraging the conversation is important.”

Martinez hopes to address what he calls a “paralyzing climate” with the resolution. “What I have felt is that at these moments we need to normalize the conversation,” Martinez said. “In this resolution are echoes of local districts’ work, all over the State of Oregon. Many parents worry about their children showing up to school and whether it’s safe for them to attend a public school in Oregon and that needs to be unacceptable for all of us.”

The resolution was well received by individuals testifying before the Board: 

“Our members, through their work in locals are trying to pass resolutions similar to the one you have,” Oregon Education Association President Hanna Vaandering told the State Board during public comment. “Having this come from the State Board will be extremely helpful to ensure that our students have a safe learning environment across Oregon.”

Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA) Interim Director of Legislative Services Lori Sattenspiel said, “We believe your action sends a strong message: Oregon stands up for all students,” she said. “I want to thank you for your leadership.”

Confederation of Oregon School Administrators Executive Director Craig Hawkins added during his public comments, “This resolution will be used by school leaders around the state to help have the kinds of conversations and provide the kind of supports that they need to have in their communities. We stand ready as OSBA does to share the resolution with our members and continue to provide them with resources and support that our students and families need.”

Later in the meeting, the State Board approved the first agreement between a school district and an Oregon tribe which will allow the Banks School District to keep its “Braves” nickname. As part of the agreement, the district has changed the logo to no longer use a Native American image and will adopt a Native American curriculum which will teach students about the history and contributions of the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde Community of Oregon. In his testimony to the State Board in support of the agreement, Grande Ronde Tribal Council Chairman Reyn Leno said, “The history of our peoples, who have lived in Oregon since time immemorial, is significant for all Oregonians and is usually ignored or poorly described in our schools. We appreciate the opportunity to work with the school district to educate more Oregonians about the histories, societies, and cultures of Oregon’s Native peoples.”

The State Board later took its first look at an agreement between the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde and the Scappoose District, which also uses the Braves nickname. The Board will vote on approval of that agreement at its April 27 meeting. Also at that meeting, several more district-tribal agreements are expected to have their first hearing. Districts have until July 1 to gain State Board approval of their agreements or they cannot have a mascot and nickname using Native American imagery. 

Legislative Update:  Bills on Hold Pending May Revenue Forecast 

Everyone wants to know how much money for education will be in the state’s next biennial budget, but at this point, the answer is unclear. Governor Kate Brown’s proposed budget allots $8.1 billion for the State School Fund. Legislative leaders put the figure at $7.8 billion in their initial budget proposal. The picture will become somewhat clearer once the May revenue forecast is released. This is the estimate that lawmakers will use to craft the state’s spending plan. 

Oregon Department of Education Legislative Coordinator Jan McComb says the budget situation is even impacting policy bills such as one creating a Native American curriculum for schools and another setting up an early intervention system to keep students on track for graduation.  “More than in any other session I can recall, bills are going to the Joint Committee on Ways & Means, even bills that aren’t fully vetted and in their final form,” McComb said. “I believe the Legislature will hold on to these bills until they know the State School Fund number and how many other programs they will be able to afford.” 

Purple Up! For Military Kids

Military families help sustain our fighting force, on whom we depend for the security and safety of our nation’s families and communities. In April, the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3) – along with many other organizations, non-profits and public entities- will celebrate the important role of military children while their service member parents are serving the nation. Across the country, states, communities and schools celebrate this month in various ways, including wearing the color purple. This year, the national MIC3 commission has selected Tuesday, April 25 as the official “Purple Up! For Military Kids” day.

 According to the Military Child Education Coalition, there are approximately two million children of military personnel ranging from newborn to 18 years old, of which 1.1 million are school-aged. Military families frequently move postings on a regular basis. Due to this, the average military child will attend six to nine different school systems during their kindergarten through grade 12 years and will likely transfer twice during high school.

To address these issues, in 2014 Oregon became a member of the Interstate Compact for Military Children. The Compact aims to reduce the educational and emotional issues encountered when the children of military personnel are required to transfer from schools in one state to another. The goal of the law is to provide as much consistency as possible with other states relative to school policies and procedures, while honoring the existing laws that govern public education in our state. All 50 states and the District of Columbia are members of the compact. The compact addresses many issues typically encountered by military children such as:
Student records
Placement and attendance
Special education services
Absence related to deployment activities
Receipt of credits

More information on the challenges experienced by military children is available on the MIC3 website

Jump Start Student Success for the 2017-18 School Year: Join the USDA Demonstration Project! 

Child Nutrition Logo
How can we reduce the “the summer slide”? Nutrition helps! Oregon has been approved for a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service demonstration project.  The project -- the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children (SEBTC) -- is authorized through the Department of Human Services (DHS) to provide funds to children experiencing food insecurity in many of our counties and some specific schools this summer. Oregon has participated in the past, providing funds to more than 63,000 children in 2016.  This funding is separate from the Summer Food Service Program and is to be used in addition to any existing nutrition programs.  The ODE School Nutrition Program is supporting this demonstration by collecting eligible child data from schools.  If your school is eligible, ODE will be contacting district Nutrition Services and IT staff to request the necessary information for DHS to provide $86 per child.  Funds will be available starting June 10 and expire September 5, using a new or existing Oregon Trail card.  Letters will be sent from DHS to the households explaining the process to activate cards.  These funds will benefit students, families and the community.    Please encourage your district to send in the information as soon as possible  and inform your community of this much needed assistance coming after school ends.  Contact Damasita Sanchez, Child Nutrition Specialist with any questions.  

A Reminder About Instructional Materials

Following the state adoption of instructional materials, school districts must choose one of the following options: 

  1. Adopt from the state-approved list by the start of the following school year. 
  2. Conduct an independent adoption. 
  3. Postpone adoption of instructional materials for up to two years. 
If your school district decides to conduct an independent adoption, you need to follow the guidelines in OAR 581-022-1622 including the use of the State Board-approved criteria which can be found on the Adoption Criteria for Instructional Materials webpage.

You can review the Instructional Materials Adoption Schedule to see the content area up for adoption as well as the evaluation and adoption cycle at the state level.
instructional materials timeline

*Your school district may be granted postponement up to two years following the scheduled start for new materials provided that you follow the guidelines in OAR 581-022-1650. This option should be used sparingly as it is an alternative to the recommended adoption schedule. 
For additional support or resources, please contact Jeremy A. Wartz, Instructional Materials Coordinator, at or (503) 947-5736.

Students Share Fears, Offer Educators Ways to Help in Current Climate of Intolerance

Students in a classroom taking a test
Ten students addressed the Oregon Leadership Network Spring Institute on April 5 to talk about their increased fears following the November election. The students represented the Hispanic/Latino, Muslim and LGBTQ communities and all said they feel that more can be done to make schools into safe, comfortable areas for minorities. 

Many of the students were in Oregon under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. They said that they are more fearful now because of renewed emphasis on deporting undocumented residents.

“Isn’t a family always supposed to be together?” one student asked. “For the first time I feel scared in my house.” Another was near tears explaining how she had to memorize addresses and phone numbers to contact people in case her parents got picked up by immigration agents. A common refrain from the students was feeling different in Oregon, often being the only Hispanic student in a class. This led to the students feeling targeted and afraid to speak up.

Ways educators can help support students:

As part of the panel discussion, the students also had suggestions for educators on how to help. Having support from teachers, administrators and counselors was very important to all of the panelists. “Talk to us,” one student pleaded. “I can’t come up to you and ask.” 

“I don’t want just a couple people to help me, I want to be surrounded by support,” said another. 

DACA students, in particular, face barriers when trying to apply for colleges and scholarships. One student, now in college, said that her school counselor didn’t have answers for her about how to get around the obstacles, which was disheartening. Another felt she had to put her dreams of being a missionary nurse on hold because of her immigration status. 

The student panel was one part of the conference titled: “Committing to Student Safety, A Call to Action in Uncertain Times.” State Board of Education Chair Charles R. Martinez, Jr.  also addressed attendees, focusing his presentation on moving from words to actions. “It is not a political act to support the safety and well-being of our students,” Martinez said. “Silence is not acceptable.” 

Martinez said that equity work has to lead to a specific outcome, it can’t just be so we can say we did something. He went on to say that we need to make our values explicit and focus on our public and private actions. “It is essential that we engage in hard discussions,” Martinez said. “Are we going to act, or wait?”

North Clackamas Superintendent – and newly honored National Superintendent of the Year – Matt Utterback shared how he realized the importance of education equity. Meeting with a group of black and Hispanic students, he says what he heard was “raw hurt.” The students said the only lesson in their curriculum about blacks dealt with slavery and that it was hard to go to school with people who don’t look like you.

“We have a responsibility to take action to create more equity in the education environment,” Utterback said. “We must become school systems that embrace change. We can’t be afraid of making mistakes, but we DO need to be afraid of not taking action.”

The conference also included a presentation by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (pictured above). You can read her full remarks, which include many resources for schools by clicking here. 

ESSA Update:  State Plan on Track for May 3 Submittal

The ESSA logo featuring a graduation cap on an outline of the State of Oregon
Oregon’s draft State Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was submitted to Governor Kate Brown on April 3, 2017. The State Board of Education will take a final vote on the plan on April 27.  Pending expected Board approval, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) will submit its final State Plan to the U.S. Department of Education on May 3, 2017.

This draft reflects more than one year of intensive work and collaboration with practitioners, partners, and community members across the state. Central to Oregon’s State Plan and the work ahead are key levers, or opportunities that were generated through the feedback and voices of Oregonians. ODE believes these levers serve as foundational tenets to strengthen and shape our educational systems to better serve Oregon’s students.  They include:

1. Prioritizing and Advancing Equity
2. Extending the Promise of a Well-Rounded Education
3. Strengthening District Systems
4. Fostering Ongoing Engagement

You can read more about these opportunities and the state’s vision for education in our State Plan Overview document

Awesome OSCIM: Capital Improvement Matching Program Expected to Exceed $100M Mark

Next month, voters in eight Oregon school districts will go to the polls to decide on bond measures that have an added bonus from the state: matching funds of up to $8 million from the state for each district. If all the bonds pass, it would bring the total amount awarded by the Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching (OSCIM) Program to the $125 million mark. OSCIM allows districts to apply for matching funds to make their local tax dollars go further. 

The eight districts voting next month are seeking $30.2 million in matching funds for $866 million in capital improvement projects. In May and November of 2016, 23 districts received $94.8 million in matching funds through OSCIM following bond votes totaling $1.4 billion.

“The OSCIM Program has been critical in providing needed funding to improve the quality and safety of Oregon’s schools,” ODE Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Administration Rick Crager said. “It has also been a key factor in contributing to the overall success of local bond campaigns – particularly in areas that have traditionally either not been able to pass a local school bond, or have lacked the ability to finance the entire capital need through a school bond.”

OSCIM-supported bonds have been approved throughout the state (see map) and the economic impact of the 23 projects already approved by voters is an estimated $2.6 billion statewide. OSCIM is funded through the sale of general obligation bonds by the state. If any of the eight districts do not get their bond proposals approved by voters next month, their promised OSCIM funds will go to districts on a waiting list whose local bonds passed. 

Time Is Running Out to Win a Fitness Center for Your School!

The logo for the National Foundation for Governors' Fitness Councils
You undoubtedly know of a school that could use a $100,000 fitness center, so be sure to nominate it for one of three fitness centers to be awarded in Oregon this year by the National Foundation of Governors’ Fitness Council (NFGFC)! Oregon is one of four states chosen to participate in the 2017 DON’T QUIT! Fitness Campaign. Three Oregon schools that demonstrate leadership in helping students become and stay fit will be selected to receive one of the $100,000 fitness centers. 

"Our children deserve to lead healthy lives that allow them to learn, play, and grow," Governor Kate Brown said in a press release announcing the call for nominations. "I encourage Oregon schools to apply for this opportunity to help students incorporate physical activity and wellness into their daily lives."

Each fitness center is financed through public/private partnerships and does not rely on taxpayer dollars or state funding. Since 2012, the NFGFC has delivered fitness centers in 18 states and Washington, D.C. The foundation’s goal is to place fitness centers in all 50 states. Nominations are open until June 2.

Nomination forms and more information can be found on the NFGFC website, so be sure to nominate your school today! 

STEM Leaders Meet to Draw Connections for Students

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Hub leaders from around Oregon met at the Oregon Coast Community College and Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport April 6 and 7 to network and work on common issues. Joined by Oregon Department of Education (ODE) employees, the Chief Education Office and Oregon Solutions staff, the first day was a “roll up your sleeves” workday which included discussions of engaging with private philanthropy on the future of STEM and the role of STEM Hubs. 

ODE STEM Education Specialist Deborah Bailey said the meetings are held three times a year to help STEM Hub leaders and partners better understand their role. “The vision of Oregon’s STEM Education Plan is to reimagine and transform how we educate students in order to enhance their life prospects; empower their communities; and build an inclusive, sustainable, innovation-based economy,” Bailey said. “It also recognizes that the challenge facing the state is not simply filling jobs and driving economic growth. More of our students will succeed when the connection between their learning and their future is clear and when there is readily available access to opportunities to adapt and contribute to a rapidly evolving technologically rich society.” 

The work of a STEM Hub—to help build connections in a geographic region in order for students to see the relationship between their learning and their future—will help more of all of our students succeed in school.

The second day focused on setting the foundation for advancing equity and supporting region-to-region partnerships amidst a changing landscape. State and national STEM leaders were in attendance and offered STEM Hubs the opportunity to also engage and inform about their work, learnings and needs. 

Graduation Honor Seals Available 

Graduation is just around the corner! Oregon public school students who obtain a GPA of 3.5 or above are eligible for an honor diploma seal.  School registrars are welcome to request diploma seals via phone call, email or fax to the Oregon Department of Education front reception desk. Contact information is provided on the request form which can found on the Oregon Diploma webpage.  

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