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June 2017 Education Update

Oregon Achieves... Together!

A Message from Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor

Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor
As we reach the end of the 2016-17 school year, I want to congratulate the graduating class of 2017! Graduation is a tremendous milestone, reached through the collective work of Oregon’s students, educators, families and communities. Many of our students are the first in their families to walk across the stage and accept a high school diploma. This accomplishment represents hope and optimism for the future. 

The role Oregon’s educators have played in the success of the Class of 2017 cannot be overstated. Your remarkable dedication, tireless efforts and ongoing commitment to providing rich learning experiences for our students are key ingredients for improving outcomes and closing achievement and opportunity gaps. My recent visit to McMinnville High School earlier this month emphasizes this. While there, I spoke with a group of seniors who eagerly shared their career training experiences in the district’s career pathways program. From health services to horticulture, and business to engineering, the common thread heard throughout these students’ stories was the support and encouragement they received from a dedicated, caring adult mentor in their school. 

As we look back on the school year and our accomplishments as a state, it becomes increasingly evident how hard Oregon educators work so that our students have what they need to learn, grow and thrive. I want to take a moment to reflect on our collective accomplishments. Together, we have:
  • Remained committed to our ambitious goals to improve graduation outcomes.  Our 2016 graduation rate increased by 1 percent from the previous year for a total of 74.8 percent of students graduating in four years.
  • Built capacity across the state through educator networks and engagement. We have a collaborative vision to ensure high-quality teaching and learning in every classroom across Oregon.
  • Strengthened our approach to equity by reinforcing our commitment to safe, welcoming and inclusive school environments for all students. 
  • Engaged with community members from across the state as we developed Oregon’s State Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act.
  • Continued to progress in designing and implementing systems for continuous improvement that will move us forward as a stronger Oregon. 
We could not do this work without your steadfast commitment. I offer my gratitude to each and every one of you for your service to students in our state. Please know that you make a real difference in the lives of our children. Have a wonderful, restful summer, and congratulations again to the graduating class of 2017!

McMinnville High School students discuss their career training experiences with Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor.


Fourth grade students at Wascher Elementary show Dr. Noor how they use their Chrome books during a geometry lesson. 


Pre-K students in Barbara Curtis’ class at Wascher Elementary are joined by McMinnville Superintendent Maryalice Russell, Principal Kourtney Ferrua, and Dr. Noor.

$8.2 Billion State School Fund Passes Legislative Hurdle

On June 8, the Oregon State Senate approved Senate Bill 5517 which would put $8.2-billion into the State School Fund for the 2017-19 biennium. If approved by the House and signed by Governor Brown, it would represent an 11 percent increase for the State School Fund from the current budget.

During the June 5 Joint Ways & Means Committee hearing, members expressed hope that more funding could be found before the end of session. Senator Rod Monroe, who co-chairs the Joint Ways & Means Subcommittee on Education, said, “This budget is sound. It’s more than the current service level.”

The Legislative Revenue Office (LRO) has produced documents that give estimates for how much school districts would get at that level of funding. A separate document does the same for Education Service Districts.

ODE Legislative Coordinator Jan McComb said the bill is now eligible to be voted on by the full House as soon as early next week.

State Board Visits Woodburn Dual-Language Classrooms

WoodburnschooldistrictFrom the outside, it appeared to be an average second grade math class. The topic was adding two two-digit numbers and one student was explaining one of the ways to get a result. The only difference is that while the class was at Heritage Elementary in Woodburn, Oregon, the language being spoken in the class was Russian. And the student had no problem explaining his results even though three years earlier, he knew no Russian at all.

Woodburn has two dual-language programs; one in Russian, the other Spanish. State Board of Education members and some Oregon Department of Education (ODE) officials had the opportunity to tour Heritage Elementary and Nellie Muir Elementary on May 24, the day before their board meeting in Woodburn to see the programs firsthand.

“It doesn’t matter what language you learn a math concept in,” Woodburn Superintendent Chuck Ransom told board members. “Once a student learns it, they can do math in either language.”

Ransom credits the foresight of his predecessors in administration and on the school board for starting the dual-language program. 

State Board members were impressed by their visit. “Brain-based research supports the strength of dual-language learning,” Board member Kimberly Howard said. “Add to that, that language is a cultural asset and teaching culture is a place-based way to reflect the richness of a diverse community, then you have me thinking, how can we scale this, system-wide?”

OSCIM Helps Small and Rural Districts

With the May 16 election results final, the Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching (OSCIM) Program is finished with its grants for the current biennium. Seven districts received matching grants by passing bond efforts last month, bringing the total to 30 grants over two years with a combined value of $125 million. Of those, 11 grants went to schools with fewer than 1,000 students and seven grants went to districts with enrollments between 1,000 and 2,000 students.

As the map shows, districts all over the state have received grants. The 30 bond issues combined represent $2.3 billion in construction and an economic impact far beyond that in the communities that approved the bonds.

“The OSCIM Program has been a key factor in contributing to the overall success of local bond campaigns,” Oregon Department of Education Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Administration Rick Crager said. “It has been critical in providing needed funding to improve the quality and safety of our schools, 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.”

Has Your School Signed Up for the SafeOregon Tip Line Yet?

The Oregon State Police launched SafeOregon, a school safety tip line program available to all public K-12 schools in Oregon, on January 31, 2017. SafeOregon is a way for students, staff or other members of the public to confidentially report and share information about a risk or a potential risk to student safety. SafeOregon requires schools to complete a sign-up process in order for students to use it. Since SafeOregon was launched, 260 schools have enrolled and are using the tip line. That reaches approximately 110,000 Oregon students. SafeOregon gives students a way to reach out for help.
SafeOregon became Law through House Bill 4075 (2016), as a result of recommendations from the Oregon Task Force on School Safety, which was charged with improving safety and security at schools across the state. The task force was established by House Bill 4087, bringing together representatives from police, fire, school administration, teachers, school boards and service districts, along with the Governor's education and public safety policy advisors, legislators, the Oregon Department of Education and the Association of Oregon Community Mental Health Programs. The task force is chaired by Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts and Dr. David Novotney, Willamette Education Service District.
SafeOregon is designed to encourage Oregon students to share and respond to anything that poses a risk to their safety or the safety of others, anything that makes a student feel unsafe or if a student knows someone who feels unsafe. 

For more information, please visit The resource page has more information for students and families, and helpful information for schools to sign up. Students and families are encouraged to talk to their school administration about making SafeOregon available in their school.

It is a violation of ORS 165.570 to improperly use the SafeOregon system.

Why Summers Matternationalsummerlearningassociationlogo

By Matthew Boulay, Ph.D., founder and CEO, National Summer Learning Association

Rachel Gwaltney, director of policy and partnerships, National Summer Learning Association

The phenomenon of “the summer slide,” also called “summer setback” or “summer learning loss,” is upon us. In fact, educational research suggests that summer learning loss is one of the most significant causes of underachievement in America. Consider that students spend 80 percent of their time outside of the classroom. What they do during that time has a tremendous impact on their educational outcomes.

Each summer, on average, students lose between 1 and 3 months of learning in reading and math. What does that mean to our schools?  Here’s one way to think about it: If a student gains nine months of learning during the school year but then loses three months of learning during the summer, it’s as if the school year is just 6 months long. Teachers see it firsthand: sixty-six percent of teachers surveyed by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) reported that it takes them at least three to four weeks to re-teach the previous years' skills.

Within a rapidly shifting education landscape, states have many opportunities to support students during the summer months. NSLA’s analysis of state plans for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) reveals specific strategies for states to combine federal and state investments to help drive student success with targeted summer activities. These include places where summer is explicitly named as a programmatic strategy or allowable use of funds, as well as provisions within ESSA that are a natural fit for summer opportunities. 

The Oregon ESSA plan released May 3, 2017 reflects some of the best practices for states to include summer as a strategy for supporting student achievement. 

Foremost, Oregon is tapping into one of the most important themes of ESSA: collaboration. The ODE ESSA plan recognizes that “Through expanded learning opportunities, students receive academic enrichment, work-related learning, social-emotional supports and caring relationships through after school and summer programs and community based learning.”  ESSA has many elements that require or recommend community and family input, and NSLA sees states tapping these stakeholders with expertise about what kids need outside of school to select the most effective strategies.

ESSA’s focus on a well-rounded education includes both in-school and out-of-school learning opportunities, with emphasis on community partnerships and evidence-based practices. Districts have great flexibility to select activities tailored to the needs of each community. These can range from STEM learning to foreign language to arts education. Research from RAND shows that voluntary district summer programs have a positive impact on student success. With many of these activities already underway during summer, districts can look to this funding to boost or expand their summer enrichments.

Finally, ESSA targets specific groups of students that particularly benefit from summer supports. Oregon and other state plans include summer reading and math supports for migrant and homeless students, recognizing this time as critical for intensive, targeted instruction for students who may be behind their peers due to factors beyond the school building. States are also putting in place summer bridge programs that help students and families successfully make key school transitions, such as from pre-k to kindergarten, middle school to high school, and high school to college.

Summer learning loss has been described as an epidemic, affecting millions of kids, causing academic and economic harm, and hitting low-income families the hardest. High quality summer learning is a solution to reverse this trend, keep kids on track between grade levels, and ensure students go back to school each year ready to learn. 

Join NSLA in celebrating National Summer Learning Day on July 13!

Resource Links: 
State of Summer Learning Policy Snapshot
Summer by the Numbers Infographic
Summer Learning Resources for Families

ODE Research Brief Shows Success of Small Town Schools

researchbriefA new Oregon Department of Education (ODE) research brief shows that high school graduation rates in small towns exceed the statewide average. It also shows the gap between the state average and medium-sized towns has narrowed to one percentage point after significant gains by those schools the last three years.

Small and medium-sized towns also have smaller graduation rate gaps for students living in poverty and Hispanic students than is seen statewide. The research brief examines four high schools that have either improved their graduation rates significantly or maintained a high graduation rate: Helix School in Helix, Adrian High School in Adrian, Kennedy High School in Mt. Angel and Lakeview High School in Lakeview.

Each of the schools cite keeping students engaged as an important factor for their graduation numbers. Whether it’s small class sizes that allow for more individualized instruction or a focus on career and technical education (CTE), making sure the students are supported on their path to graduation is showing results.

Tribal Attendance Pilot Projects Share Success Stories

tribalattendancepilotprojectRepresentatives of the nine Tribal Attendance Pilot Project (TAPP) programs around the state shared stories of success at a symposium May 24 and 25 in Salem. TAPP is an effort to reduce chronic absenteeism – defined as missing more than 10 percent of school - among Oregon’s American Indian/Alaska Native students. This population has a chronic absenteeism rate nearly double the state average. You can find out more about TAPP on the ODE website.

The nine school districts selected for a TAPP program – each chosen by one of the nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon – received funds for a family advocate with deep local connections. The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) provided technical support and training to the advocates and monitored each of the projects. 

TAPP advocates were passionate in talking about their role in helping students get to school. While each program is specific to its site, there are many common themes among programs, like making students feel welcome, helping parents and celebrating success.

At Washington Elementary in the Pendleton School District, for example, the TAPP program staff ensured that signage at the new building incorporated tribal language names. This provides a connection for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla students and an opportunity for education for the non-tribal students. They also gave the buses names in both Umatilla and Weyliitpuu (Nez Perce) languages. In addition, they changed some rules to allow the recognition of cultural activities as learning opportunities, so that students could attend tribal events during school hours and not be counted as absent. All these changes help the students feel more integrated into the school community.

“Addressing chronic absenteeism starts with monitoring daily attendance,” Pendleton TAPP family advocate Brent Spencer told symposium attendees. “It was in using the data that we found the assumption that students furthest from the school were responsible for the most absenteeism was false.”

In the North Bend School District, Family Nights are an important part of the program to help build relationships of trust between the families and school officials. The family advocate gave out alarm clocks to families to help ensure students got up and ready in time for school. Family visits help emphasize the importance of attendance to education and gain buy-in from parents. The North Bend TAPP result is that a majority of the students identified as chronically absent the previous year have improved their attendance rate.

At Willamina Elementary school, there is a focus on recognizing and promoting good attendance. A bulletin board tracks the attendance of each class and certificates are handed out for perfect attendance. Every month has a different attendance challenge and monthly assemblies celebrate victories. All of this creates a culture in the school around regular school attendance and the initial results show 58 percent of Native American students in the school improving attendance rates, including 14 percent by double digits.

Student attendance is a two-way street. As Klamath County TAPP project director Doug Jantzi put it,"it's up to us to create a school kids want to come to." 

AmandaO'BrienCongratulations to Central Linn Elementary School Principal Amanda O’Brien, who was chosen as the 2017 Administrator of the Year by the Oregon Small Schools Association (OSSA). According to an OSSA press release, the school was in the bottom 15 percent of Oregon schools when O’Brien became principal five years ago. Since then, she worked to improve school culture, parent/community involvement, professional outreach and school-wide focus on rigor, learning standards and academic assessment.
“Amanda demonstrated a willingness to learn from the best practices of others and used collaborative efforts to gain powerful practices for her school,” Central Linn Superintendent Brian Gardner said. “From staff to student to community, Amanda has resourced the best available people and brought them together for the school’s benefit and growth.”

Under O’Brien’s leadership, Central Linn Elementary School has risen to the 89th percentile in school rankings; when compared to similar schools demographically, Central Linn is in the top 3 percent of Oregon schools.

OSSA recognizes one school administrator each year who excels in his/her leadership position. Criteria include integrity, leadership, commitment to community, scholarship and student achievement. O’Brien will receive her award at the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA) Conference at Seaside in June.  

Advanced Placement Professional Development Available 

Registration is now open for Oregon’s only Advanced Placement (AP) Institute, offered by the High Desert Education Service District and Central Oregon Community College. Whether you are a teacher seeking to begin teaching AP courses or you are already teaching and want to expand your skills, the AP Institute of the Cascades offers a unique summer learning experience for you! On August 15-18, 2017, more than 30 hours of subject-specific professional development will be provided to equip and enhance teaching of AP courses. More information and a registration link can be found on the AP Institute of the Cascades website.

Noor Conducts End-of-School Year Visits

Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor visited schools this month to recognize the great work of students and educators. Each school visit highlighted student engagement, educator leadership and community partnerships. 

His school visits included Wascher Elementary School and McMinnville High School in the McMinnville School District; Rosa Parks Elementary School in Portland Public Schools; Sublimity K-8 in the North Santiam School District; Scio High School and Centennial Elementary School in the Scio School District, and Roosevelt Middle School in the Eugene School District.

Rosa Parks Elementary School, Portland Public Schools

Scio High School, Scio School District

Sublimity K-8, North Santiam School District

Roosevelt Middle School, Eugene School District

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