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March 2017 Education Update

Oregon Achieves... Together!

A Message from Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor

For the second time in a decade, the American Association of School Administrators has looked to Oregon for its National Superintendent of the Year. North Clackamas Schools Superintendent Matt Utterback was selected for this honor last week, bringing important recognition of excellence to our state. His message that “we need to focus on creating inclusive learning environments for each student at our schools” obviously resonated with the selection team. I want to congratulate Matt on his award and commend him for the great work he does for North Clackamas students and the surrounding community.

This is a prime example of focused and strong leadership that leads to positive results for all students.  Matt and the district’s team are to be commended for their intentional focus on equity and making sure we meet students where they are and help them grow and reach their potential.  We know strong leaders bring out the best in their employees, guiding them toward a collective vision and working to achieve shared goals. Matt is such a leader and we are proud to see him be recognized as one of the best educational leaders in the country.  It’s important to learn from the work and practices that supported North Clackamas’s schools and student success, especially their leadership.  We look forward to gleaning and sharing such practices with other schools and educators around the state.

Leadership Matters! That’s why I’m so excited about the Oregon Plan we will submit under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It’s an opportunity for us as Oregonians to lead and shape the future of our education system.  Oregonians have spoken and they want our students to access a well-rounded and quality education that includes humanities, social sciences, civics, the arts and music and provides engaging and personalized learning experiences for all students.  Such a system will allow far more personalization and individualization of education so that every student sees the relevance of school, knowing it is preparing him or her for the job of his or her dreams.

While ESSA helps us look ahead, we can’t forget the present. Now that we’re in the month of March, we can see the finish line of the 2016-17 school year just ahead of us. As it approaches, we need to keep our students in the forefront of our minds  and ensure  we are meeting their needs to successfully transition to the next grade or graduation. It is up to us to identify and then remove any barriers that are preventing this progression. We have an obligation to do everything possible for our students. Providing a strong,  inclusive learning environment, as Matt Utterback  talked about in his acceptance speech, is central to this.

The more I engage with students, families, educators and community members around our great state, the more encouraged I become about the future of education in Oregon. It’s clear we all have the same goal in mind and want to do what is best for our students. With continued strong leadership at the district and school levels and the Oregon Plan to guide us, I’m confident Oregon will continue to be recognized nationally for the work we do.  


Graduation Spotlight: Reducing Chronic Absenteeism FAQs

As part of the Oregon Department of Education (ODE)’s focus on supporting student achievement to increase our statewide graduation rate, ODE staff have created a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document on reducing chronic absenteeism. Operations, Data and Grant Support Director Johnna Timmes and Education Specialist Robin Shobe created this new resource for educators, policymakers and community members.   Please forward the resource linked above to people you know would benefit from the information. 

ESSA Will Be Lever to Advance Work, Dr. Noor Tells English Learners Conference ELConferenceMarch2017

Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor delivered the keynote address to the 2017 State English Learners Alliance Conference, telling attendees that under Oregon’s State Plan for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), schools and districts will be held accountable for English Language proficiency and academic achievement for English Learners (ELs). He said this ensures that English Learners’ academic and language needs are fully considered and supported.

The conference, cosponsored by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA), brought more than 800 people to Eugene during the March 8-10 event. In addition to Dr. Noor’s address, attendees chose from breakout sessions on topics like Building K-12 Biliteracy Pathways and Best Practices for Identifying, Serving and Exiting English Learners with Disabilities. The conference, titled “Oregon Educators: Answering the Call,” emphasized the continued implementation of the Statewide English Language Learner (ELL) Strategic Plan as well as the Oregon State Equity Plan.

You can access description, presentations and handouts from any of the sessions by going to the conference website.

ODE also presented three school districts with Carmen West Memorial Awards. Carmen West was a valued ODE employee who was also a tireless champion for the state of Oregon in advocating for English Learners. This award has been given every year since her death in honor of outstanding work across the state for EL students. This year, David Douglas, Gervais and Medford School Districts were honored for their work. 

ODE Prioritizes Tribal Consultation

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires meaningful consultation with tribes to develop and implement Oregon’s State Plan. The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) views the requirement as an opportunity to strengthen its partnerships – at the state and local levels – with Oregon’s 9 federally recognized tribes in order to improve outcomes for American Indian and Alaska Native students. To carry out this work, Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor has designated Indian Educator Advisor April Campbell as the ODE representative to carry out consultations. Since December, ODE’s consultation experiences with tribes have generated greater awareness and instilled a sense of urgency to improve the alignment of resources and supports to better serve students, particularly those who have been historically underserved. In summary, tribal leaders have emphasized a desire to:

  • Increase collaboration between tribal communities and local education leaders
  • Improve data-literacy, including how best to target resources and supports 
  • Support Government-to-Government problem solving by ensuring tribes have a represented voice in decision-making
To learn more about Oregon’s 9 federally recognized tribes, visit ODE’s tribal website

ODE’s tribal consultations will continue over the next several months. For more information, contact April Campbell.

ODE expects to release its new Tribal Communication and Consultation policy in the Spring of 2017. 

State Board Adopts Measure 98 Rules, Reviews Oregon Plan Under ESSA

The State Board of Education engaged in state outreach in February by holding its meeting at the Eugene School District 4J Educational Center. As Board member Jerry Colonna said at the meeting, “It’s very customer-friendly for us to come out to districts around the state.” The Board will hold its May meeting in Woodburn.

The Board had two major items on its agenda. The first was approving the rules for implementation of Measure 98, a ballot initiative passed by voters in November aimed at improving graduation rates in the state. The rules govern how districts can apply for the funds the Legislature provides and the purposes for which the money must be spent. To qualify, districts must address each of the three areas specified in the ballot initiative: career technical education (CTE), college-level educational opportunities and dropout prevention.

The Board adopted the rules, which are accessible on the Measure 98 page of the ODE website.

The Board also heard the first reading of the Oregon Plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Assistant Superintendent of Teaching, Learning and Assessment Dawne Huckaby told the Board that ESSA, which replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), provides four key opportunities for Oregon:
  • Prioritize and advance equity
  • Extend the promise of a well-rounded education
  • Strengthen district systems
  • Foster ongoing engagement

Huckaby said the plan being submitted starts with a section titled Supporting All Students because ESSA “is about affording opportunities not emphasized under NCLB.” That includes the focus on equity, providing a well-rounded education and having more flexibility with some federal funding. The Board will consider the state's plan at its March 23 meeting. Oregon will submit the plan to the U.S. Department of Education this spring and should receive notice within 120 days if the plan is accepted. 

ODE’s Joyce Dougherty Receives Red Plate AwardJoyceDoughertyaward

Written by Dani Douglass, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications at Oregon State University. 

Oregon Department of Education Child Nutrition Program Director Joyce Dougherty accepted this year’s Red Plate award from Bob’s Red Mill founder Bob Moore after telling a lighthearted story of how her late mother only made cornbread using Bob’s Red Mill Medium Grind Cornmeal. She said that if they baked in heaven, her mom was surely still using it. The story was a fitting anecdote for a woman raised on her mother’s home cooking and enthusiasm for food, nutrition and health.

“I dedicate this award to my mother because it’s through her example and lifelong passion for food, nutrition and health that I am here today,” Joyce said when accepting the award. “When I was cleaning out my mother’s house after her passing two years ago, I found 17 Bibles and scores of food, nutrition and health tips. It was her passion.”

Joyce was honored as part of the Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventive Health’s Food, Nutrition & Health Update conference. Held on Feb. 23, the conference featured sessions led by experts in the field from the CPHHS, Oregon Health & Science University and the University of Illinois. This year’s keynote speaker was Marian Smith Edge, Founder of AgriNutrition.

The full article is accessible on the Oregon State University website.

Legislative Update:  ODE Provides Comprehensive Agency Information at Budget Hearings

Budget hearings are underway at the State Capitol and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) presented the governor’s proposal for education investment during nine separate meetings of the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education. Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor, joined each day by the leaders of various ODE offices, laid out the investment plan in the Governor’s recommended budget, which calls for an overall increase in funding of about $900 million for the 2017-19 biennium compared to the legislatively approved budget currently in place. That would mean a total of $10.67 billion over the two-year budget cycle.

Dr. Noor told the committee that an increase in the State School Fund, which gives money directly to districts, is the major source of the budget’s growth. The biggest driver for the State School Fund increase comes from the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). He said there is also a growing caseload in areas like child nutrition and students with disabilities that requires the state to increase funding. Oregon is also seeing a change in student demographics where more than 36 percent of students are non-white, 10 percent are English learners and 13 percent receive special education services. “We have to be responsive to their needs,” Dr. Noor said.

The governor’s budget prioritizes three main areas, according to Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Administration Rick Crager. “We’re doing everything we can to preserve the State School Fund, Early Learning and all of the programs aimed at closing achievement and opportunity gaps,” he said. Those programs include the African American/Black Student Success Plan, the Tribal Attendance Pilot Projects and English Learner initiatives.

In a message to ODE staff, Dr. Noor wrote, “It is still very early in the legislative process and at this point there are still many unknowns.  We anticipate many of the budget decisions will not be made until after the May 2017 revenue forecast.” View all of the testimony on the legislature’s website. ODE also live tweeted the hearings to help those who could not attend. Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@ORDeptEd) to stay up to date on other important hearings at the Capitol and the latest news from ODE! 

Tribal Attendance Pilot Projects Support Student Success

Family advocates working as part of ODE’s Tribal Attendance Pilot Projects (TAPP) around the state met in Salem February 16. Each had stories of success to share about their program, aimed at reducing the rates of chronic absenteeism among the American Indian/Alaska Native population in the state. Since improved attendance rates reduce dropout rates and increase graduation rates, supporting students in attending class regularly has significant, long-term benefits.

All agree that making school a welcoming environment is key. “Connections are important,” said Scott Smyth, who works with families in the Burns Paiute Tribe in the Harney County School District. “Families can trust us and it feeds into the feeling that school is OK.”

“Attendance is more than just saying ‘Here,’” Felicia McNair said. She works with the Klamath Tribes in the Klamath County School District. She added that by recognizing positive actions and letting families see how missed days add up have raised overall attendance by over seven percent.

Jason Moore, North Bend School District family advocate who works with the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua & Siuslaw Indians, said home visits can reveal problems that lead to poor attendance. Sometimes it’s as simple as providing an alarm clock for a family. He also helped a mother create a chore chart for her children so that they would be up and out of the house on time.

Nearly every program had examples of increased attendance rates not only among American Indian/Alaska Native students, but for all students in the schools they serve. That’s important because on assessments, chronically absent students perform far below their peers with better attendance and graduate at a far lower rate as well. They have to be in class in order to learn and there may even be side benefits: Mary Mueller who works with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians as a family advocate for the Lincoln County School District, said the best part was seeing one of her students win an attendance award and then say, “I think I like school now!”

For more information about TAPP, contact Indian Education Specialist Ramona Halcomb. 

Oregon School for the Deaf Teams Score Basketball Victories

Congratulations Oregon School for the Deaf Panthers! The last weekend in January was a successful one for the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams at the Oregon School for the Deaf. The Panthers boys team won the Western States Basketball Classic Tournament, a competition involving six deaf schools in the region. The girls team took third place. Congratulations to both! 

Oregon Response to Intervention Conference to focus on Serving Oregon's Diverse Learners

Oregon Response to Instruction and Intervention (ORTIi) is holding its annual conference April 27-28 in Eugene. According to ORTIi Director Dr. David Putnam, the purpose of the conference is twofold: share evidence-based practices in a way that is pragmatic and applicable to solving real-world problems; and bring together educators from across the state to facilitate connections, networking, and a structure of mutual support for moving these practices forward and educating all learners, especially historically underserved populations.

Oregon Department of Education (ODE) staff will be among those presenting at the 90 breakout sessions members can access. Topics include dyslexia legislation, Early Learning and Kindergarten guidelines and the future of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support in Oregon. Visit the conference webpage for more information on registration. 

The keynote speaker is Dr. Anthony Muhammad, whose presentation will be on closing the achievement gap. There will also be a pre-conference titled “Actions to Equity” on April 26 which will feature members of ODE’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion team. Organizers are expecting hundreds of participants, so be sure to register soon!

Oregon’s Next Teacher of the Year Sought


Do you know an outstanding teacher who exemplifies the very best in the profession?  Please nominate your choice for the 2018 Oregon Teacher of the Year! Each year, the Oregon Department of Education, in partnership with the Oregon Lottery, honors teachers and their impact on students’ lives through the Oregon Teacher of the Year award. The award recognizes an outstanding teacher as a representative of all of the educators in our state and gives Oregonians an opportunity to share information on teachers who are making a difference in their communities. Nominating is an easy, four-step online form. To nominate an educator for 2018 Oregon Teacher of the Year, click here. The deadline for nominations is Friday, May 12, 2017 and the award will be announced later this fall.

To learn more about the Oregon Teacher of the Year program or to submit a nomination today, go to: 

Educators Invited to Apply for Deputy Superintendent’s  Advisory Council Membership

Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Salam Noor is inviting Oregon educators to apply for the Deputy Superintendent's Advisory Council. This council is responsible for advising Dr. Noor on education initiatives and policies and providing feedback on how the state can best support Oregon students, educators, and schools. Individuals from all content areas and grade levels, including classroom teachers, counselors, and TOSA's, are encouraged to apply for the next two-year cycle. Applicants need only complete this short application by close of business on Friday, April 28, 2017.

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