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March 2023 Education Update

Oregon Achieves... Together!

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

ODE Director Colt Gill 

The last few weeks have shone a bright and important spotlight on educators throughout Oregon.

Just last week, we tallied up the final number of record-setting nominations submitted for the 2023-24 Oregon Teacher of the Year: more than 650 educators were nominated across the state! It's so exciting and necessary to see teachers’ work recognized and appreciated. In April and May, Oregon’s 19 Education Service Districts will review applications and determine Regional Teacher of the Year winners. State finalists will then be selected from amongst the regional winners and one teacher will eventually be named the 2023-24 Oregon Teacher of the Year. Thank you to everyone who nominated an educator.

Congratulations to Beaverton Superintendent Gustavo Balderas, who last month earned Superintendent of the Year from the National Association of Bilingual Educators. The research is clear that knowing more than one language leads to student success and Gustavo has expertly built and expanded dual language programs in both Eugene and Beaverton, creating that crucial multilingual pathway for so many students. His leadership is a shining example for Oregon and I’m heartened to see his work recognized on a national level.

Teachers, superintendents and all school staff enhance student lives and our state’s future every day. Please take a moment this week to thank an educator for their service to students and our communities.

March is Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, a celebration of women’s contributions to events in history, science, and society. The United States has observed it annually since 1987.

The National Women’s History Alliance (NWHA), which led the movement for March being declared National Women’s History Month, has announced the women’s history theme for 2023, “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.”

Throughout 2023, the NWHA will encourage recognition of women, past and present, who have been active in all forms of media and storytelling including print, radio, TV, stage, screen, blogs, podcasts, and more. The timely theme honors women in every community who have devoted their lives and talents to producing art, pursuing truth, and reflecting the human condition decade after decade.

Please explore these Women's History resources:

Oregon Women's History Celebrations and Events

Women's History Month Resources for K-5 Classrooms

Women's History Month Resources for 6-12 Classrooms

Oregon Schools Use The School Safety and Emergency Management (SSEM) Program To Stay Prepared

Now more than ever it is important for school leaders to know and plan for threats to their community. Over the last few years Oregonians have experienced wildfires, a global pandemic and threats of school violence. Each of these challenges necessitated planning and resources for safe school operations. To support schools statewide, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) has a free service: the School Safety and Emergency Management (SSEM) program. The SSEM connects school leaders to community-based resources and expertise related to emergency management.

During the 2021-22 school year, the SSEM program provided training and technical assistance to 72 school districts. That assistance included everything from conducting site safety assessments, to training and exercise management, to re-writing a district’s Emergency Operations Plan.

Plan Ahead! Connect with your Regional Emergency Preparedness Representative

The SSEM program has school emergency preparedness representatives in five regions across Oregon: Columbia Gorge ESD for the northeastern region; High Desert ESD for the southeast region; South Coast ESD for the southwest region; Willamette ESD for the central coast region; and Clackamas ESD for the northwest region. Each representative is skilled and trained on safe school operations and are uniquely prepared to address challenges in each of their regions.

We encourage you to contact your regional emergency preparedness representative today at ODE’s SSEM Contacts Page. Or reach us at to find out more about how we can help you stay prepared for tomorrow.

School District Spotlight: Hood River

Hood River School District is just one of the many districts that has relied on the SSEM program for assistance over the past year.

“It [SSEM program] really provides us a guide, here’s professional feedback, here are measures you can take to improve the safety and security of your schools,” said Kyle Rosselle, school safety coordinator for Hood River School District.

Rosselle says he’s been working with his regional school emergency preparedness representative out of Columbia Gorge ESD. Through that connection with the SSEM program, Hood River SD has had schools assessed for safety hazards, connected with local and regional emergency responders, and received pertinent training and feedback on school emergency preparedness.

Rosselle expanded on his district’s efforts when he spoke about two approaches to school emergency preparedness: “…one that takes time and funds and infrastructure. There’s also the approach we’re taking in Hood River in, what approach can we take that doesn’t cost money?”

What are some of those no-cost activities? “It doesn’t cost anything to make sure your doors are locked, to keep a look out for visitors and use the school safety tip line,” Rosselle said. And he said the assistance he has received from the SSEM program has provided professional feedback on those and other safety measures.

Rosselle and other Hood River SD representatives meet regularly with their regional emergency responders to discuss emergency planning, training and drill procedures. That meeting includes the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office, Hood River County Fire, 911 dispatch personnel, the regional SSEM representative and other community partners. In their most recent meeting in January, they discussed updates to their school district Emergency Operations Plan, lockdown procedures in schools and what they could do to practice their plan by conducting a table top exercise. All these activities ensure that both school staff and the local emergency responders are aligned in their mission to provide the safest learning environment for Hood River SD students.

Community coordination like this is crucial in preparing a school district for potential disaster in the future. A school or district will not respond to a community crisis in a vacuum. They need the help of their local emergency responders who will help the school respond to danger and reunite students with families.

Report highlights top concerns of early educators

The Early Learning Division partnered with University of California-Berkeley on a study exploring the work environments of center-based and home-based early educators. The study is the first of its kind since the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 1,000 Oregon early educators shared their lived experiences with work conditions that affect practices and well-being. Here are some key takeaways:

Supported staff want to stay: To recruit and maintain high-quality staff, programs must offer supportive working conditions for their early educators.

Training and support needs: Many Oregon early educators reported a lack of training in several areas and a lack of options for sustained, long-term training or opportunities for peer-to-peer learning.

Language and cultural diversity: Multilingual educators in Oregon feel they have less power in their program setting and that their input is not valued.

Adult well-being suffers: Early educators reported struggling to afford housing, health care, food, and other basics for themselves and their families. They also reported unhealthy or unsafe conditions, such as not being able to take breaks.

Family child care providers are facing challenges: Few family child care providers can employ assistants to help them in their work. Taking on this responsibility has negative effects on them financially and emotionally.

You can find both the executive summary and the full report on the UC-Berkeley website.

Oregon Spark: Apply to be a member of the redesign team

The Research Institute at Western Oregon University (WOU) invites families and early learning and care professionals to help redesign the statewide Quality Recognition Improvement System, also known as Spark. WOU and Community Wealth Partners have created a listening, learning, and redesign process led by people who have children or currently work with young children.

Members of this team will listen and gather information from families and early learning and care professionals in their communities through surveys, virtual or in-person conversations, and interviews. They will then review feedback and develop recommendations.

Members of this team:

  • Earn $50 per hour
  • Work about 50 hours from late March through July 2023, including one weekly online meeting
  • Receive help with technology, child care, and training

We encourage people who speak Spanish and/or are bilingual in English and another language to apply.

The deadline to apply is Monday, March 20. To submit an application, email the below information to Walter Howell (English) or Idalia Fernandez (Spanish):

  1. Name, phone number, email address
  2. Town/city where you live
  3. Languages you speak (including ASL)
  4. Brief answers to these questions in a few sentences:
    • Why do you want to be part of this listening team?
    • What is most important to you in child care and early education?

Find more information on the Spark website. Please feel free to contact Spark if you have questions.

ODE In the News

Request for Public Comment - Accountability & School Improvement Addendum Proposal

ODE is requesting and inviting public comment by March 31, 2023 on a select set of small proposed amendments to Oregon’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan. In February 2022, Oregon invited comment and proceeded in applying for a one-year addendum to the plan, with small changes, in order to comply with the Accountability and School Improvement provisions of the law. The proposed amendments would make the changes outlined in the prior addendum permanent and would also address technical changes in the plan to support meeting federal requirements.

High-level Summary of Select Changes:

  • Sustain the revision to the Accountability section to reflect changes to student growth calculations for ELA and Math.
  • Revise the accountability section to reflect changes to English Learner Progress calculations.
  • Revise the accountability section to reflect adjustments to years of data used in calculations.
  • Revise the definition of “inexperienced educator” to align with definitions used by the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC).
  • Revise Title III monitoring cycles.
  • Extend the long-term goals from 2024-25 to 2026-27.

The proposed changes to Oregon’s ESSA Plan can be viewed online and shows markup (tracked changes) as required by the federal government.

Public comment is welcomed and required ahead of ODE submitting the amended plan to the federal government.To submit comments by March 31, please use this survey. We encourage school leaders to share the opportunity for public comment, including educators and local community and education partners, in order to ensure a broad representation in responses. Additional details follow.


The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December of 2015. ESSA required states to develop comprehensive plans to address various aspects of the law. The law provided states more discretion with how these requirements would be met and set the expectation that state education agencies would engage and consult with Tribal and education leaders, educators and school staff, parents, families, students and communities and community partners, to inform and shape the plan.

After considerable consultation and engagement, Oregon’s plan was submitted to and approved by the U.S. Department of Education in August 2017. A confluence of factors over the last few years spurred a need to review the approved plan and make several small, technical changes to ensure compliance with the law.

ODE previously shared these changes in a meeting of Oregon’s Government-to-Government Tribal Education Cluster in keeping with an ongoing obligation to each of the nine nations in Oregon.

More information pertaining to Oregon’s Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act can be found on ODE’s website.

Please email us with any questions or comments pertaining to the amendment process.

Oregon Statewide Educator Survey- Deadline EXTENDED

We want to hear from you!

In an effort to allow Oregon educators more time to participate in the Oregon Statewide Educator Survey, the deadline has been extended to Friday, March 24th. This extension will allow educators additional time to share their experience and provide essential feedback that will be used to help inform local and state school improvements.

For more information about the survey, please visit the EAC website.

Oregon CIS Free and Open Access for All

Oregon Career Information System (CIS) is excited to announce an expansion of our partnership with the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to Free and Open Access for All!

The Oregon CIS is the state’s official career information delivery system – providing occupational and educational data and materials to help Oregonians learn about the world of work and education. We work with schools, colleges, social agencies and businesses who provide career guidance and employee development services.

In Free and Open Access for All, ODE is using Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to cover the cost of all of Oregon CIS for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school year. Additionally, supplemental funds from Every Day Matters will provide the standard implementation access for educators and specialists, as well as access to career exploration tools for elementary students. This truly expands access to Oregon CIS for all Oregonians!

What does this mean for you?

You, your students/clients, and your staff can now access Oregon CIS for your education and professional planning!

You have two ways to implement Oregon CIS:

  1. Open Access – Here you can direct your students/clients to use the Open Access version of Oregon CIS. This option does not require affiliation to a school or organization to access Oregon CIS resources. Find the Open Access profiles through the options on the Oregon CIS homepage.
  2. Standard Access – In this option, Oregon CIS will set up your own school’s/organization’s access so that you can set up access for your students/clients and staff. This will allow you and your staff to see your students’/clients’ work in Oregon CIS. Please contact us to set up your school’s/organization’s free version of Oregon CIS.

Free training is also available thanks to funding from ODE. Sign up to discover how you can use Oregon CIS.

What does this mean for the state?

All Oregonians, elementary through adulthood will have access to Oregon CIS, a comprehensive career exploration and planning system. This will allow people to research and document their career planning in a systematic way at any point in their career path.

This is an exciting and significant change for the state. Stay tuned as we release additional information and access throughout the coming months.

Please feel free to share this information with your colleagues at other schools/organizations that may not use Oregon CIS.

CISA Helps Schools to Strengthen Cybersecurity Efforts

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is offering free support to school districts to help them build, operate, and maintain resilient cybersecurity programs.

Please read CISA Region 10, Regional Director Patrick Massey’s offer to school districts (below), review the CISA cybersecurity toolkit and contact CISA to learn more.

By: Patrick Massey, CISA Region 10 Regional Director

The relationship Americans have with the schools their children attend has changed dramatically over the last few years. Now, parents and students alike are interacting with schools and teachers online in a variety of new ways.

From online grading and information on class assignments, to instructor communication, paying lunch balances, and scheduling classes, we have never been more electronically connected to our schools.

While these advances have brought about great conveniences and made education more accessible and effective, malicious cyber actors are hard at work trying to exploit vulnerabilities in these systems, threatening our nation’s ability to educate our children.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has developed resources to help K-12 schools and school districts address its cybersecurity risk. We also offer simple steps school leaders can take to strengthen their cybersecurity efforts and fight this growing threat.

Schools and districts are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks and are an especially lucrative and vulnerable target given the presence of sensitive student and staff data. Impacts from cyberattacks have ranged from restricted access to networks and data, delayed exams, canceled school days, and unauthorized access to personal information.

CISA recognizes that many K-12 entities don’t often have the resources needed to defend themselves from cyber threats, like ransomware attacks. They are what we refer to as “target rich and cyber poor.”

To address these issues, CISA provides three recommendations to help K-12 leaders build, operate, and maintain resilient cybersecurity programs:

  1. Invest in the most impactful security measures and build toward a mature cybersecurity plan. See: Cross-Sector Cybersecurity Performance Goals | CISA
  2. Recognize and actively address resource constraints.
  3. Focus on collaboration and information-sharing. Consider joining the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center: MS-ISAC

Additionally, CISA recently released a report, “Partnership to Safeguard K-12 Organizations from Cybersecurity Threats,” with an accompanying toolkit to give schools targeted resources to improve their cybersecurity.

The report provides recommendations and resources to help K-12 schools and school districts effectively reduce their cyber risk.

The toolkit aligns resources and materials to each of CISA’s three recommendations along with guidance on how schools can implement each recommendation based on their current need. The toolkit also details free cybersecurity trainings and resources available for the K-12 community.

This report is only a starting point. CISA will continue to engage with federal partners, including the U.S. Department of Education, and work closely with state and local officials, school leaders, and the private sector to identify areas for progress and provide meaningful support that measurably reduces risk.

We hope that leaders in the K-12 community—including superintendents, district and school administrators, school boards, and state policymakers—will take advantage of this report and toolkit to better understand their cyber risks and take basic steps to reduce that risk.

There is no more important institution to the future prosperity and strength of the United States than our nation’s K–12 education system. CISA stands ready to partner with schools to improve your cyber defenses and resiliency.

For more information or assistance, please contact the Northwest regional office for CISA.

Student Spotlight