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February 2023 Education Update

Oregon Achieves... Together!

A Message from the Director of the Oregon Department of Education, Colt Gill

ODE Director Colt Gill 

Last month’s release of the rising statewide graduation rate serves as an important reminder that even in tough times, Oregonians of all ages and backgrounds can partner to accomplish hard-won feats.

I’m inspired by the 13-year long journey each and every one of Oregon’s class of 2022 took to graduate from high school in Oregon.

The improving graduation rate represents the tremendous resilience of Oregon’s youth, the courageous, tireless work of our educators, and the individualized, student centered resources made available through the Student Success Act, Summer Learning programs and other key initiatives.

While there is still much more work to do, every student group in the class of 2022 improved their graduation rate and all of the historically underserved groups have made gains faster than the statewide average over the last five years. We had to change our system to serve the students traditionally marginalized by Oregon’s education system and through these changes we’ve started narrowing disparities in services and outcomes. This is the most effective and equitable path to increasing overall outcomes for Oregon’s students.

The good news is getting out! I’ve included below some of the news coverage of the graduation rate release. You can see how districts are crediting programs developed to address disparities. Going forward, we need to stick to these reforms and then make sure we provide a well-rounded education that bolsters early literacy, mental health supports, and accountability to contribute to improved outcomes for our students.

Graduation Rate Coverage Highlights

Thank you all for your hard work to continue improving outcomes for students.

Video and Column from Governor Kotek

Governor Tina Kotek recorded a short video this week thanking educators, school employees and administrators. Give it a watch!

The Governor also wrote a column for the Oregonian outlining how her budget addresses Oregon’s biggest challenges, including education:

A fiscally prudent plan that tackles Oregon’s biggest challenges

Mission focused. That’s the title of the budget recommendation that I submitted to the state Legislature this past week, my first budget as Oregon’s governor.

I have heard from Oregonians in every corner of our state that there are three issues of top concern: housing and homelessness, mental health and addiction services, and education. My budget aims to chart a course that will make real progress in each of these areas so that families across our state start to see meaningful improvement in their everyday lives.

We are not going to solve all the state’s problems within a single budget cycle. But the cost of inaction or indecision would be devastating. That’s why my balanced budget makes significant investments in those three areas without raising new taxes.

Read the rest on the Oregonian website.

February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month

Career and Technical Education (CTE) makes a difference, but what is it? CTE programs are a sequence of courses that build knowledge, skills and abilities from an introductory to an advanced level.

In the more than 1,000 CTE programs offered in Oregon, learners delve into the practical, academic and technical aspects of in-demand career areas such as Information Technology (IT), cybersecurity, machine manufacturing, agronomy, business and management, and nursing.

The power of CTE to engage learners can be found in high-interest curriculum and learning experiences that mirror the real world and give learners a critical introduction into what they may want to do in their future career. CTE programs provide a foundation from which learners can understand the world of work and their place in it.

Typically three to four courses in high school provide a direct bridge into college CTE programs. The program provides an opportunity for students to find their passion through advising and mentoring. The focus is on the future and the opportunity to experience that future now, while in high school. Data and information reporting in ODE’s Statewide Annual Report Card reflect higher four-year graduation rates for CTE concentrators across all ethnic groups. Learners experiencing disabilities have traditionally realized better post-school outcomes (PSO) when their education has included a CTE Program of Study and tend to have better post-school outcomes such as enrollment in college.

CTE Unleashes Students’ Talents

For the Class of 2022, 93% of Oregon high school students who completed two credits in an approved Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program of Study graduated in four years. By comparison, the graduation rate for the Class of 2022 as a whole was 81.3%. The CTE concentrator graduation rate has consistently exceeded that of all high school students. Oregon CTE Programs of Study captivate the interest and drives the persistence of learners engaged in them.

Stories of Success

The Register Guard featured Eugene’s Future Build program where students learn about all aspects of the construction industry, work directly with industry professionals and get to practice their skills through authentic projects. The work they do melds construction skills with life skills to position them well for the transition to college or straight to employment. Increasingly, the sequence of courses and experiences offered through a CTE Program of Study can qualify learners for entry into apprenticeship programs.

The Hermiston Herald talked with students at Umatilla High School about a new space available to them thanks to a collaboration between the district and Amazon Web Services (AWS). The new AWS Think Big Space at Umatilla High School links learners to advanced manufacturing technology, including industry quality Computer Numerical Control (CNC) equipment, improved Computer Aided Design (CAD) software and hardware support, and 3-D printing labs. All of these technologies, the instruction and experiences related to them, and the industry connections the learners forge help to develop a vision of the future.

More information on CTE in Oregon is available on the ODE website.

ELD Tribal Affairs Director Participates in Fellowship Class

The Division of Early Learning and Care (ELD) congratulates the ELD Tribal Affairs Director, Valeria Atanacio, for being accepted into the 2022-24 Fellowship Class with ZERO TO THREE!

ZERO TO THREE is a leading nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life. The organization’s 2022-24 Fellowship Class welcomes 20 global leaders to the premier leadership development program in the early childhood field. The fellows will embark on an intensive 18-month program to strengthen critical skills and deepen connections in their work to advance fair, equitable, and just change in programs, systems, and policies affecting the health and well-being of babies, young children, and families. This class was selected from the fellowship's largest applicant pool in the program's 32-year history. Early Learning Hub Director for Clackamas County Danielle “Dani” Stamm Thomas was also accepted into the fellowship class.

Atanacio serves as the Tribal Affairs director within the Early Learning Division, forming the agency's Office of Tribal Affairs and leading the co-creation of the Tribal Early Learning Alliance alongside tribal leaders from each of the nine federally recognized tribal nations in Oregon's borders. She is a member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde with ancestral ties to the Shoshone-Banook, Chinook, Northern Ute, Umpqua, and Tututni Tribal bands.

More Families Now Eligible For Employment Related Day Care program

The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) and ELD have expanded eligibility for affordable child care through the Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) program. The expansion took effect Jan. 1, and you can learn more about it on the ELD website.

The primary changes to the program mean that students—in high school, a GED program, or college—no longer need to work to qualify for the child care assistance. Plus, all students will receive additional child care hours each week for study time. Additionally, many families will qualify for more child care hours due to a change in the way part-time and full-time coverage is calculated.

We invite providers to share this information with families they already serve. Additionally, if a provider would like to be listed with ODHS as a program that accepts ERDC families, there is more information on the ODHS website about how to become listed.

Black History Month Resources

The National Museum of African American History and Culture's Learning Lab collections utilize objects, documents, imagery, and videos to enhance content knowledge, hone historical thinking skills, and inspire users to see themselves as agents of change. The lab includes numerous resources for teachers and students of all grade levels. Explore additional educator resources from NMAAHC or from the links below:

K-5 Resources

6-12 Resources

Secondary Resources 

Upcoming Free Trainings

  • Webinars for Teaching the Black Freedom Struggle from Zinn Education Project

Care and support for school communities following Memphis tragedy

The message below was sent by Director Colt Gill to education leaders on January 27, following the loss of Tyre Nichols’s life in Memphis, Tennessee.

Violence in any form is shocking and hurtful, violence from public officials rocks our foundation and causes us to question where we place trust. We know that when any community is in pain, it is a time to bring empathy and love to the communities we serve. We are all responsible for what happens in the future. As we make sense of this tragedy together, schools can be at the ready with resources, care, and support for staff, students, and families.

The video of Tyre Nichols’s death was released on the same day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, calling for reflection on how people across the world reflect on the history of hate-based genocide against Jews; Roma; and Black, LGBTQ+, disabled, and many other marginalized peoples in Europe. The coalescing of these moments is a reminder that when there is hate for one group of people, there will be hate for many others. And when one group is in pain, many other groups are in pain and can feel deep empathy. Our communities are stronger when we can work through the pain and heartbreak together.

We all process trauma and care differently, which makes it important to have access to a range of resources. Many of our students, families, and educators who walk into our schools on Monday may feel scared, overwhelmed, or any number of other emotions. Watching or replaying videos portraying violence can be especially damaging to youth mental health - we won’t know which of our students may have had this experience over the weekend. We also will not know all the details of how our youth have interacted with one another over social media on this issue over the weekend.

As accurate and inaccurate reports are shared through media sources, African American / Black adults, youth, and children may be particularly impacted by the unfolding news. Many people may need access to mental health and school safety supports, some of which can be found in ODE’s Mental Health and Well-Being Resources.

As a reminder, Oregon allows students to legally take a mental health day as part of “Chloe’s Law,” which allows students to have up to five absences excused in a three-month period. Districts can honor this important student right knowing that sometimes we want to be with our school community, sometimes with our home support network, sometimes with our spiritual network, and sometimes we need time alone.

Schools are important places for students to learn how to have respectful, informed dialog about important issues of our times. It's where we learn how to be in this world together, to learn that violence erodes our humanity. It's how students become prepared to create a better future, and feel a sense of hope even in moments that reveal what is broken that needs healing and repair. Silence can be harmful, but it takes preparation and learning to prepare for emotional conversations about hurt and violence in the news.

I know that some of you receiving this message are preparing to support your students, families and colleagues, while at the same time you may need to take time for yourself. Please do take that time, take care of yourself this weekend so that you can be there for those around you.

The Oregon Statewide Educator Survey is Coming February 15!

The Educator Advancement Council is pleased to introduce the Oregon Statewide Educator Survey (OSES), formerly known as the TELL Oregon Survey. The survey will run February 15th through March 3rd.

This online, anonymous school survey is for all school-based, licensed educators and instructional staff, including administrators. The survey offers educators an opportunity to provide input on conditions that can be used to inform state, district and school improvements.

For FAQs, resources, and to learn more, please visit the Educator Advancement Council’s OSES website.

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