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October 2017 Education Update

Oregon Achieves... Together!

A Message from Acting Deputy Superintendent Colt Gill

 Colt Gill
As you may be aware, Governor Kate Brown appointed me as acting deputy superintendent of public instruction on October 11.  I want to share some thoughts with you during the leadership transition at the Oregon Department of Education (ODE). 

First, I want to thank Dr. Salam Noor for his many years of service and dedication to ODE, both as an assistant superintendent and as the agency leader and Governor Brown’s deputy superintendent. Salam led and influenced many ODE successes, most importantly the Oregon Plan under ESSA. We owe our thanks to Dr. Noor for his impact on our education systems.

An Introduction
I feel privileged to represent the department and partner with you in our effort to improve outcomes for Oregon’s children and young people. I’m driven by the work we do. I cannot think of any work that is more important to the future of the individual students we serve or the future success of our state.

I have lived in Oregon my entire life. I attended our public schools, community colleges, and universities. As a student that received special education services, our education system worked for me. I believe strongly in the power of our schools and Oregon’s educators. And, this is why I strive to play a significant role in ensuring our education system works for today’s youngest and most diverse Oregonians. 

I have had the opportunity to serve in Oregon’s public schools for the last 28 years.

I go about this work through collaboration and coalition building; many committed partners help to both lift and sustain our efforts. I believe we need to innovate to break through Oregon’s education outcome challenges, but innovation must be balanced with evidence and data so that we can have confidence that our efforts will better serve the students our systems are currently failing.

Moving Forward
While a process to determine a permanent deputy superintendent is underway, we at ODE will continue to serve students and school districts. The department plays a critical role in partnering with our schools, from guiding teaching, learning, and assessment, to guarding civil rights, to financing our schools and ensuring safe transportation, to providing healthy meals and wraparound supports, and so much more. All of this mission continues.

And, we add to that mission a set of significant directives that Governor Brown released on October 11. The directives include two overarching principles:  ensuring we go about our efforts with a high standard of accountability in implementation and a strong alignment to and consistency with the Equity Lens

Next Steps
ODE staff will work in close collaboration with you, our communities and tribal partners, as well as across state agencies and within ODE’s offices to achieve these directives. 

My aim is to partner with you and work together to meet the needs of the diverse students we serve today. Our state needs our schools to succeed, and an entire generation of students in our schools today is counting on us to deliver. 

On behalf of myself and our ODE staff, I look forward to working with you to improve outcomes for all the students in our state. 

Colt Gill signature

Colt Gill
Acting Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction 

Oregon Report Card 2016-17October is a busy month for the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) data team as it releases a lot of information provided by districts about the previous school year. Thanks to districts’ hard work collecting and reporting the data and ODE staff putting it all together, the department can help inform practices being used throughout the state to better educate our students.

The first release – and probably the one receiving the most attention by the public – is the school and district report cards. These snapshots provide an overview of each school and district. But, as Acting Deputy Superintendent Colt Gill said, “Our goal is to provide a more comprehensive look at schools and districts. For far too long we have relied solely on academic data in just two subjects to communicate about the schools’ strengths and areas for improvement, and we know schools have more to share regarding how they provide an equitable and well-rounded education to students.”

That’s why ODE is in the middle of a report card redesign process, gathering input from parents, families, stakeholders and communities about what information they want to see about their schools and districts and how best to present that information clearly. There will be a big change in report cards next year, but this year’s report card remains the same as the 2015-16 report card. View your school or district report card by clicking here.

The second release is the Class Size Data Report. The report contains median class size for every school and district in the state, sizes by grade and subject within each school and district, and the number of classes offered by size as well as total student and total teacher counts. This is the third year this detailed level of class size data has been collected.

Finally, the Regular Attenders Report (formerly the Not Chronically Absent Report) is now available on the ODE website. The data continues a trend of more students falling into the chronically absent category, meaning they miss 10 percent or more of the school year. Acting Deputy Superintendent Gill addressed why the state tracks chronic absenteeism in a statement that accompanied the data release: “We know that students who attend school regularly have more opportunity to learn, so tracking chronic absenteeism is critical. There is a direct link between high instances of chronic absenteeism and low graduation rates; this is why chronic absenteeism is one of our school accountability measures in our Oregon Plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act and why Governor Brown and the Legislature have  invested in programs to address the issue.”

By collecting and analyzing these data, ODE is able to make the case for targeted investment to address issues like chronic absenteeism and opportunity gaps for historically underserved student groups. 
Measure 98, passed by voters in 2016 and a funding priority for Governor Kate Brown and the Legislature in 2017, aims to improve graduation rates by reducing dropouts, increasing college credit opportunities in high school and boosting career and technical education (CTE). Eligibility for continued funding requires districts to have in place practices to reduce chronic absenteeism, a system for equitable assignment of students to advanced courses, and systems ensuring on-time graduation as well as regular meetings of teachers of students in the 9th grade to ensure continued progress toward graduation. With these requirements in mind, districts have started the planning process for how to spend future grant dollars in these areas. 

Starting early in November, districts may submit their four-year plans to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) with a deadline of January 31, 2018. ODE staff will then review the plans and, when approved, districts will be eligible for the second year of funding for 2018-19. More information on the submission date will be posted on the ODE website.

Measure 98, now referred to simply as High School Success, focuses on three strategies to improve graduation rates: dropout prevention, college credit and CTE, because data backs up their effect on graduation. For the 2015-16 graduation cohort, nearly 91 percent of students with a concentration in CTE graduated in four years, more than 15 percentage points higher than the statewide average. 

A 2013 legislative brief by the Oregon University System found that "Accelerated Options increase rates of college entry, academic success in college and college retention rates." In a similar way, providing more opportunities for a well-rounded education will reduce dropout rates and increase the number of graduates. 

For more information on the benefits of Measure 98, be sure to check out the one-pager on the Improving Graduation in Oregon section of the ODE website on Accelerated Learning and CTE. Additional information may be found on the Measure 98 pages of the website.

Oregon Plan: What You Need to Know Now

Accountability and School Improvement

What You Should Know
  • ODE is analyzing preliminary accountability data to begin supporting districts and schools suggested for Comprehensive and Targeted supports beginning this fall 2017;
  • Schools will not be officially identified for Comprehensive or Targeted Support until the fall of 2018;    
  • District supports, in the spirit of partnership, will be aimed at closing opportunity and systems gaps as described in Oregon’s revised accountability and support model (see Indicators below Table 4.14);
  • For complete details on Oregon’s Accountability Model click here (see sections v, vi and vii).

Important Shifts under ESSA (Accountability and School Improvement)
Under Oregon’s improved accountability and support model, school improvement will take an approach that:

  • Situates schools as part of a larger district system. Moving forward, districts will be the point of contact for identified schools.  Districts will lead, support and monitor their own efforts in support of schools.
  • Incorporates local data and local context. When determining how to best select and implement supports based on need, districts will leverage stakeholder input and local factors. 

What’s Next?
The ODE District and School Effectiveness Team, in collaboration with other state teams, will begin reaching out to districts with schools suggested for Comprehensive and Targeted supports in November 2017.  In the meantime, any questions or concerns can be addressed by reaching out to:

Timothy Boyd, Director
District and School Effectiveness

Shawna Moran
District and School Effectiveness 

DiversityConferenceHarmonyThe 2017 Diversity Conference for state employees delivered on its theme: “Harmony, Equity and Inclusion” this year. Kevin Gannon, Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and Professor of History at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa, delivered the keynote presentation, entitled “The Revenge of History: Race and Power in the United States” at the Sept. 26-27 conference, held at the Salem Conference Center. Gannon’s interactive session explored the ways in which the idea of race got its conceptual power, and challenged the myths individuals often tell themselves about this set of categories. He provided a range of examples from U.S. history to pop culture to genetics, illustrating how race is something that has been built by people over history, not something carved in stone from the beginning of time—and why that matters. He educated attendees on how “race” has been used to divide people as a society, and how knowing where “race” comes from helps us all work to promote harmony instead of division. 

The conference featured more than 24 breakout sessions.  ODE staff Victor Cato, Mona Halcomb and Terri Ward delivered a session entitled “Elevator Talk: What Not to Say.”  The team led a discussion on topics including micro-aggressions and what happens when harmful comments are said that were meant to be supportive. Participants discussed the historical and cultural context of stereotypes and explored the offensive origins of certain words and phrases commonly used. Session attendees talked about how individuals react differently to information they receive based on their own culture, training and societal influences. 

More than 80 Oregon Department of Education staff participated in the Diversity Conference, which is a collaborative effort put on by 29 state agencies, including ODE.  For information on next year’s conference, contact ODE coordinator Terri Ward.

Oregon School for the Deaf in the News:  Visit The Nightmare Factory

Nightmare FactoryThe Oregon School for the Deaf is receiving significant news coverage, thanks mostly to The Nightmare Factory, the school’s largest fundraiser. The morning show on Fox-12 in Portland featured a sneak peek at this longest-running haunted house in the Northwest on October 5, a day before the opening of its 30th year. “On the Go With Joe” videoed two segments at the Nightmare Factory (Segment 1, Segment 2) that included talking with the man who started it all, Ed Roberts.

The Salem Statesman-Journal also sent a reporter to cover The Nightmare Factory. She not only wrote a story for the paper, she also made a video of her experience and all of the screams it caused. For more information on The Nightmare Factory and to purchase tickets, visit their website. The hair-raising experience runs every Friday and Saturday in October and then daily from October 25th through Halloween on October 31.

Fox-12 also sent a crew out to cover the Oregon School for the Deaf’s soccer team. The segment included talks with players and coaches and was featured during the station’s High School Spotlight segment on October 6.

This is the first in a series of stories on Formative Assessment in Education Update. Future editions will include examples of districts using the practice as part of their daily work, but first, here’s an in-depth look at what formative assessments are and why they can be an important tool.

Formative assessment operates minute-by-minute, day-by-day, and weekly to provide evidence of learning while instruction is underway so that teachers and students can keep learning on track during the course of a lesson. Formative assessment isn’t a test, and it isn’t something that just teachers do or something that happens at the end of instruction. Rather, it is a process, embedded into ongoing teaching and learning. Formative assessment operates as a feedback loop, providing teachers and students with the information they need to keep learning moving forward.

The Feedback Loop’s core questions—found on the outer edge of the circle: Where am I going? Where am I now? And where to next? —provide an overarching framework to the formative assessment cycle. In formative assessment, both teachers AND students develop new skills and knowledge so that they are able to answer these three questions during learning. In fact, a hallmark of formative assessment is that it encourages a strong learning partnership between teachers and students.
As the Feedback Loop shows, teachers first determine Learning Goals and Success Criteria for a lesson, then obtain feedback about student learning during a lesson from planned evidence collection during a lesson. Eliciting evidence is part of the learning process and takes place during instruction by observing students work, asking planned questions, or designing instructional tasks that provide evidence of how students are learning. Teachers then use the evidence to provide students with feedback, and students generate internal feedback from their own self-assessment. Ultimately, students play a key role in eliciting evidence of their own learning and in helping peers interpret evidence of learning. The final step in the process of formative assessment is to close the gap between where learners are and where they need to be to achieve the lesson’s Learning Goal. As one gap closes, the teachers selects new Learning Goals and another gap is created, renewing the Feedback Loop, and creating a continuous cycle of learning.

Formative Assessment Is…

Formative Assessment is Not…

generating evidence intentionally in the course of continuous teaching and learning; engagement with learners through observation, discussion, questioning, and review and analysis of tasks/work

giving a test at the end of an instructional cycle or on a predetermined basis (e.g., quarterly, annually)





gauging how student learning is progressing while students are in the process of learning

evaluating student achievement at the end of a sequence of learning

using evidence to inform immediate or near-immediate teaching and learning

using test data to make decisions about medium- and long-term instructional/curricular plans


providing ongoing descriptive feedback to learners

assigning grades /reporting achievement

involving students in the assessment process through peer and self-assessment

telling students the results of a test

Contact Cristen McLean, Operations and Policy Analyst, at 503-947-5842 for more information on formative assessment.

Civics Engagement Programs Offered to Students

Two new civics education programs are being offered to benefit Oregon students.  The first, sponsored by Governor Kate Brown, is geared for students in grades 6 – 8, and is entitled “Governor for a Day.” Each middle school can nominate one student (in 6th, 7th or 8th grade) to enter an essay contest, answering the question, “What would you do if you were Oregon’s Governor for a day?”  Learn more on the “Governor for a Day” webpage. Applications and essay submissions are due by November 10, 2017.


Secretary of State Dennis Richardson is sponsoring “Oregon’s Kid Governor” for 5th graders.  This statewide, in-school civics program for 5th graders was created by his office with help from the Connecticut Public Affairs Network. Timed to coincide with most years’ general Election Day in November, each school in Oregon is eligible to enter one student nominee into a statewide election in which other 5th graders around the state vote. For more information,
click here. Video submissions are due October 27, 2017.

Reconnecting Youth to Brighter Futures

Registration is underway for Western Regional Reengagement Plus! Convening, a conference for anyone supporting reengagement services for young adults ages 16-24. The meeting will be held from December 6-8 in Tacoma, Washington, and will include policy and practice improvements, local insights and site visits. Click here for more information including a link to register for the conference!

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