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May 2017 Education Update

Oregon Achieves... Together!

A Message from Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor

Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor
Education plays a critical role in fostering well-rounded, engaged, informed and prepared citizens. Across Oregon, education leaders, legislators and community members are grappling with how to improve outcomes for our students despite budget constraints, and are looking for different approaches in how to deliver quality and personalized education for every student. 

While the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has opened new avenues relative to well-rounded education, Oregon rule supports flexibility for students to earn credit by demonstrating proficiency through integrated learning opportunities. Across Oregon, an increased number of districts are exercising this flexibility, particularly in how they award credit to students, utilize community-based partnerships, and create student access to hands-on and application-based learning. 

I recently visited Phoenix School of Roseburg, a charter school in the Roseburg School District serving roughly 180 students grades 8-12. The challenges this southern Oregon community faces are not unlike those across Oregon, including economic factors and generational poverty. To offset these challenges and bolster support for students, partners in the Roseburg area have united with the school district to invest in and create a school-to-work pipeline. Through its partnership with Umpqua Community College, the Roseburg School District is providing students increased access to courses where they can apply practical skills and pursue certifications. This prepares them to enter fields like forestry, natural resources and manufacturing. What struck me most during my visit was the fact that every student had a pathway and could visualize success in their next steps. Each student felt his or her education was personalized and tailored to meet his or her academic and career goals and aspirations.  

Similarly, Baker Technical Institute (BTI) in Eastern Oregon provides students rigorous coursework through a hands-on, integrated learning experience. The BTI program encourages students to identify a career pathway (or focus of study) that includes natural resources, health services and agriculture, among other options. In addition, BTI provides students an opportunity to earn college credit and industry certifications that will prepare them for jobs in fields such as welding, engineering, nursing and construction.

At Redmond Proficiency Academy (RPA) in the Redmond School District, students demonstrate their learning through a proficiency model where they move at their own pace and receive differentiated instruction and supports as they master key academic and career concepts. “We create the opportunity for students to find their passion, and then we watch them chase after that passion,” said Principal Dr. John Bullock.  

At its core, personalized learning fosters the conditions necessary to inspire exploration, creativity and individual growth - and this takes on many forms.  For example, Ashland High School offers close to 350 classes in 11 academic disciplines and uses a block schedule so that students gain in-depth knowledge and are able to practice the skills they acquire. Likewise, Faulconer-Chapman School eighth graders in the Sheridan School District develop deeper awareness and understanding of Oregon’s history and Native American culture through the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde’s tribal curriculum. 

I am proud of Oregon’s schools and districts that have created student-centered learning by embracing innovation and leveraging the options and flexibility available to them, including how students demonstrate proficiency and earn credit.  Providing diverse pathways and opportunities for students to demonstrate how they are meeting standards and learning goals, whether in-school, out-of-school or other settings, is critical as we work together to ensure each Oregon student has access to high-quality learning opportunities.

I encourage districts across Oregon to take advantage of these strategic opportunities as we continue our efforts to support student learning and growth.  

Thank you for all you do, 

Hands-on learning at its best! Students from Phoenix School of Roseburg plant willow trees as a part of their work crew experience with the BLM in Douglas County. 

Students deeply engaged in wood shop class. Nearly two-thirds of all students in Sutherlin take a CTE course. The school and district continue to strengthen student pathways through personalized learning opportunities. 

Oregon State Plan Submitted, Next Steps Outlined

Oregon’s State Plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed by Governor Kate Brown on May 1 and submitted to the U.S. Department of Education, where it is under review. The plan was more than a year in the making and is the result of collaboration with students, families, tribal leaders, educators, administrators, school boards and community members. It outlines four commitments to enact the statewide vision for education:

  • Prioritizing and advancing equity
  • Extending the promise of a well-rounded education
  • Strengthening district systems
  • Fostering ongoing engagement
“Through our collective work over the past year we are now able to clearly and successfully express our vision for education going forward,” Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor said. “That vision – one that ensures each and every Oregon student has access to and benefits from a world-class, well-rounded and equitable education – truly represents the voices and communities we serve.”

The federal government has 120 days to review the plan, but the next steps are already underway. Oregon Department of Education (ODE) staff are developing guidance documents and planning ongoing tribal consultation and stakeholder engagement throughout implementation. 

The latest information will always be found on the ESSA page of the ODE website. You can also watch the presentation ODE staff made on ESSA to the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education and download the PowerPoint presentation.

ODE Legislative and Budget Update


Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor and Oregon Department of Education (ODE) staff are in the midst of another series of presentations to the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education. ODE completed its first budget presentation phase in March, which included 11 days of agency hearings and two days of public testimony.  This current phase drills down on specific topics and programs that were requested by Subcommittee members.

Topics covered in Phase Two so far include:
  • Student Assessments
  • English Language Learner programs
  • The Oregon Plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
  • Implementation of the High School Graduation and College and Career Readiness Act of 2016 (Measure 98)
Future topics include two bills that are part of the ODE Legislative Agenda: 
  • Senate Bill 182 (Educator Advancement Council)
  • Senate Bill 183 (Graduation Equity Fund)

You can watch any of the previous presentations by going to the Joint Subcommittee page on the Legislature’s website. Hearings are held Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m.

State lawmakers are still working on a budget, so there is no news yet on funding for schools. As Dr. Noor told ODE staff on May 10, “Clearly, the Legislature is working hard to identify how best to administer necessary state programs for 2017-19 in an environment in which there is not enough funding.” ODE has already taken steps to reduce spending for the remainder of this fiscal year and prepare for possible cuts. The Legislature is now beginning discussions through a new tax committee on where there might be potential revenue opportunities, but nothing specific has emerged from that committee.

Federal Budget

Congress has passed a spending plan for the remainder of the current federal fiscal year. Funding for Title I-A (Improving Basic Programs) will be slightly increasing. Whether Oregon receives increased funding will depend on student demographics around the country. Title II-A (Teacher Quality) funding decreased. Title III (English Learners) is flat nationally, but we may receive a slight funding increase based on demographics. ODE officials anticipate receiving $4 million in Title IV-A dollars, which is new funding for Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Title IV-B (21st Century Community Learning Centers) might receive a slight increase. 

Some of that federal money could go away next year, however. Under the President's budget, Title I-A would receive a slight increase and Title III would be funded, although it is unclear at what level. His plan would also eliminate funding for Title II-A, Title IV-A and Title IV-B.

A show on Netflix based on a high school student who commits suicide is the impetus behind an effort to disseminate resources for students, families and educators on this important issue. The Oregon Department of Education (ODE), the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Alliance to Prevent Suicide are teaming up to provide this information so that all families in Oregon can get the best suicide prevention or post-suicide intervention help as quickly as possible.

ODE Safe and Drug Free Schools and Behavioral Health Specialist Jeremy Wells said through the partnership of the three groups, it has become apparent that more state-level teaming needs to occur. “The Alliance and the Corvallis School District have created resources designed specifically around the issues brought up by the show ‘13 Reasons Why,’” Wells said. “These resources can help adults talk with students about their thoughts and feelings regarding the sensationalistic depiction of rape, bullying, suicidal behaviors and the purported inept response of the fictional school district in the show.”

Suicide Prevention Resources:
There are resources specific for parents, for school faculty and for students as well as a general information guide. The Oregon Health Authority also issued a press release on the importance of talking about suicide in light of the Netflix series. If you or your district have questions or concerns around suicide prevention or post-intervention, please feel free to reach out to ODE’s Jeremy Wells via email or by calling 503-947-5782.

Other school-based resources around “13 Reasons Why” are available from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American School Counselor Association and the National Association of School Psychologists.

Below are vital contacts for youth in crisis and their families that every school district should have on hand:  
  • SafeOregon - This is a tip line coordinated through the Oregon State Police that all schools can sign up for. For more information go to:
  • Lines for Life – Resource for prevention tips and resources at Teens can text with a peer by texting “teen2teen” to 839863 or call 1-877-968-8491.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – A confidential service for adults or youth who are in crisis or know someone who is, at 800-273-8255 (TALK) or chat is available at:
  • The Trevor Project – Provides crisis intervention for LGBTQ youth at 866-488-7386 (24 hours a day) or text “Trevor” to 1-202-304-1200 (available Monday-Friday between noon and 7 p.m. Pacific time) or at
  • Veterans Crisis Line – Confidential help for veterans and their families, 800-273-8255 or

Quality Education Commission Focuses on Achievement of Students in Poverty

The Quality Education Commission (QEC) continued its efforts to address issues of key importance to student achievement by focusing on the achievement level of students in poverty. QEC co-chairs Sarah Boly and Beth Gerot and members heard on May 10 from Peter Tromba, Interagency Research Policy Director for the Chief Education Office, that addressing the achievement level of students in poverty will go a long way toward addressing the gaps in student achievement in Oregon. Tromba’s presentation was based on the February 2017 Chief Education Office report entitled “Practices to Improve the Achievement of Students in Poverty.”

But, according to the report based on surveys completed by 148 Oregon school districts, not all funding allocated to districts based on poverty figures is spent on students in poverty. The report finds that “Only 13% of district respondents estimate spending an amount more than the State School Fund (SSF) poverty weight revenue on specific programs, while 65% of the respondents estimate spending less than half of their received SSF poverty weight on specific programs. Across all responding districts, the aggregate estimated poverty spending is 68% of the total poverty weight revenue.”

The Quality Education Model does have recommendations that would impact students in poverty, such as transportation and additional instruction time, which could include after school or summer school programs. They are not outlined in the report as specifically addressing students in poverty, but rather as addressing all students in need of additional resources. In the 2016 report, the QEC outlines its Case for an Equity Stance (starting on page 64) which states, “Equity requires the intentional examination of systemic policies and practices that, even if they have the appearance of fairness, may in effect serve to marginalize some and perpetuate disparities.” Commission members agreed it would be beneficial to partner with the Chief Education Office and share research that benefits both groups.

Commissioners also recently approved a QEC resource document that gives an overview of the Quality Education Commission and the resources it provides for school districts and policymakers.  For more information about the QEC, contact Assistant Superintendent for Research and Data Analysis Brian Reeder at 503-947-5670.

2017 Health and Physical Education Instructional Materials Evaluation Recruitment

The Oregon Department of Education is currently accepting nominations of teachers, curriculum specialists, and other experienced professionals for the 2017 Health and Physical Education evaluation and adoption of instructional materials. Individuals selected to participate will receive professional development, travel reimbursement and an honorarium.

Please visit the Announcements and Notices webpage on the Oregon Department of Education to find out more information on what committee member participation will require. Also, please nominate qualified teachers by visit the following link:

For more information or questions, contact Jeremy A. Wartz, Instructional Materials Coordinator: or (503) 947-5736

State Board Approves Oregon Plan under ESSA, Addresses Native American Mascots 

The State Board of Education unanimously approved the Oregon Plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) [see related article] at its April 27, 2017 meeting. Governor Kate Brown subsequently signed the Oregon Plan, and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) submitted the plan on May 3. Assistant Superintendent Dawne Huckaby told the Board that post-submission to the U.S. Department of Education, federal regulators have up to 120 days to approve the plan. But the work doesn’t end there.

“We will continue to have tribal consultation and stakeholder engagement with parents, students and educators as we move forward to implement this plan in a way that is going to make a difference for our students,” she said.

In other action, the Board approved a Native American mascot agreement between the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde and the Scappoose School District.  However, Board members raised concerns about some other agreements brought to the Board for a first reading that include the continued use of a mascot depicting a person in Native American dress. The two agreements Board members previously approved featured logos changed to something other than a person.

“This is difficult to see; it looks like examples of what made Native American mascots problematic,” Board Chairman Charles Martinez said during discussion of the agreement between the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and Siletz Valley Schools. The school would keep the Warriors mascot as well as its logo of a Native American in headdress. “Those images are so powerful and they don’t bring forth naturally the deep, cultural lens that may be occurring in the school with their curriculum. Instead they conjure a set of stereotypes about cultural appropriation that is incredibly powerful.”

But Siletz Assistant General Manager Bonnie Petersen told the Board that the mascot is an accurate depiction. “I have beaded that image on graduation caps; it’s considered an honor. I can show you the historical photos. There are different kinds of feathered headdresses and there is also the war bonnets being worn by our tribal ancestors.”

Because it was the Board’s first look at the agreements, no action was taken. The agreements will be back before the Board at its May 25 meeting in Woodburn.

The last agenda item for the Board was a report from Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor on the mediation between the Ontario School District and the Four Rivers Charter School. District officials believe the charter school should not be allowed to expand to high school grades because it will take away needed funds from the district. Charter school representatives say both entities can co-exist. Board members asked ODE staff to create an impact study and present it at the May 25 meeting.  

High School Graduation and Career Readiness Act/Measure 98 Update

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) is helping districts navigate the process to apply for funds from the High School Graduation and College and Career Readiness Act of 2016, approved by voters as Measure 98. A series of guidance webinars is available on the ODE website that covers several important areas such as Equity, College Credit Opportunities and Applying for Funds. The webinars are hosted by ODE staff members who are experts in the topics covered by each video.

The guidance provided is based on the rules adopted by the State Board of Education in April. While there are bills in the Legislature that may change some of those rules, ODE must base its guidance on the law voters approved in November. If any changes are made by the Legislature, ODE will update the guidance accordingly.

The best way to stay up to date on the latest about the High School Graduation and College and Career Readiness Act of 2016 (Measure 98) is to sign up to the listserv to receive email updates and to regularly check the web page.

Assessment Update

The Oregon Department of Education is exploring the possibility of replacing the high school Smarter Balanced assessment with a nationally recognized test such as SAT, ACT or others. This decision comes as a direct result of feedback from stakeholders and policy makers, including legislators, who expressed great interest in Oregon administering a high school assessment other than Smarter Balanced.

It is important you are aware of the following details:
  • Should Oregon procure a new high school assessment, it would not be implemented before the 2018-2019 school year.
  • Due to budget constraints, Oregon can afford to administer only one high school test (for accountability purposes) at the state level; therefore, only a single test will be utilized.  
  • ODE is currently engaged with the Legislature to secure funding for the purchase of the high school assessment.
  • The current Smarter Balanced assessment will be administered at all tested grades and subjects during the 2017-18 school year.
  • Smarter Balanced assessments will continue to be administered in grades 3-8 for the foreseeable future.
View this FAQ for more information.

Oregon School for the Deaf Earns Five-Year Accreditation

The Oregon School for the Deaf (OSD) received full accreditation from the Conference of Educators and Administrators of School and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD), the culmination of weeks of work by OSD staff. The accreditation process starts with an extensive self-study, delving into every aspect of operating a K-21 residential/day school. That is followed by a four-day visit from a variety of professionals working in the field of Deaf Education from Washington, D.C., Georgia, Texas and Iowa. They conducted many classroom observations and interviewed a myriad of stakeholders that included parents, alumni, staff, students and Oregon Department of Education leadership.

OSD Director, Dr. Sharla Jones, is very pleased with the outcome of the process. “We are already looking forward to implementing the recommendations of the CEASD team as we embark on our next five-year cycle of school improvement,” Jones said. “We are proud to be part of this large organization that ensures excellent quality.”

CEASD is a national organization that adjudicates 92 programs for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing across the United States and Canada, including all of the state schools for the Deaf. 

Klein Appointed Assistant Superintendent for Accountability, Research and Information Services

JoshKleinJoshua R. Klein will begin his new role as Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Accountability, Research and Information Services on May 22, 2017. Klein is returning to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) from Portland Public Schools, where he served as chief information officer. His previous tenure at ODE, from 2002-2013, included stints as chief information officer, director of application development, application support supervisor, network administrator and user support analyst. 

Klein is a certified information systems auditor and was a National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Fellow through the NCES Cooperative System Fellowship Program with the United States Department of Education (USDE).  Currently, he is a member of the Civil Rights Data Collection Working Group through the NCES Statistics Forum and USDE and he serves on the Board of Directors for the Organization for Educational Technology and Curriculum.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in network systems administration from Denver Technical College and his Master of Business Administration degree from the Keller Graduate School of Management.

Oregon Chosen for Expansion of Early Learning Program

Science tells us that the human brain develops most rapidly during the first five years of life and the “Vroom” early learning program helps encourage that development by promoting healthy and fun interactions between parents and their children – what’s known as “serve and return” interaction. Vroom’s free, multilingual, and culturally appropriate early learning tools and activities encourage healthy brain development in children ages 0-5 and Oregon was chosen for a pilot project to expand access to these tools.

The national Vroom team (led by the Bezos Family Foundation) has offered our state the unique opportunity to make the Vroom brain-building activities available via text message. The free Daily Vroom app – which contains more than 1,000 brain-building activities – has already been used more than 95,000 times in Oregon. Expanding to text messages furthers the goal of the Early Learning Division (ELD) to promote kindergarten readiness by building crucial abilities such as math, early literacy and important social-emotional skills.

Please help us spread the word about this texting pilot by sharing the Oregon Vroom opt-in page or signing up yourself. You can also text the word “CHILD” in English or “HIJO” in Spanish to 48258 to participate.

Vroom’s motto is that all parents “already have what it takes to be a brain builder” and we agree! As Vroom continues to grow in Oregon, we are encouraged by the positive feedback from parents and providers. As one father from central Oregon put it, “Vroom enhances the time I spend with my child.” By positively supporting parents and empowering them to use everyday moments like bath time and mealtime as brain-building moments, Vroom is making a difference in our state. 

Learn more at the Vroom website or email Vroom Coordinator Ari Wubbold with any questions or requests.

Portland School Receives USDE Green Ribbon Award

One school in Oregon received a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Award, which “. . . encourage[s] state education agencies, stakeholders and higher education officials to consider matters of facilities, health, and environment comprehensively and in coordination with state health, environment, and energy agency counterparts.”

According to the press release, Portland Waldorf School, a private school in Milwaukie, received the honor for its commitment “to funding and staffing an innovative environmental education program called the LivingLAB. More than just a garden program, the LivingLAB actively engages the students with a wide variety of sustainability-related projects that are integrated into a long-term site design that is being implemented by students in conjunction with their academic subjects. The school’s intentional work with harvesting the natural water flow on campus, remediating runoff water from its parking lots, promoting biking and public transit, recycling, gardening, composting, and encouraging best practices around reducing waste produced and energy use, including changing all lightbulbs to LED, qualified the school as an Oregon Green School in 2016.”

You can go to the U.S. Department of Education website for more information on how your school can apply for the Green Ribbon designation next year.

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