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September 2017 Education Update

Oregon Achieves... Together!

A Message from Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor

Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor
 September is an exciting month for education! In Oregon, we welcomed students back for another school year. And across the country, state and local educational leaders have joined together to recognize Attendance Awareness Month. As educators, we know just how critical it is that every student come to school so that each may ultimately graduate high school and move on to achieve his or her dreams. When we establish a positive school culture, prioritize and celebrate attendance, and encourage inquiry and creativity in our classrooms, students are more likely to come to school and stay engaged. Generating awareness about attendance means engaging parents and families, who are essential partners when it comes to attendance. Together, families, educators and community members comprise the circle of caring adults who help ensure that each one of our students attends school, ready to learn with support and encouragement. 

Chronic absenteeism – defined as a student missing 10 percent or more of school days, including excused, unexcused and discipline-related absences-- is a concern for students in every grade, with higher rates in kindergarten and 1st grade and then again across all high school grades. These high absenteeism rates lead to devastating outcomes, such as students dropping out, low graduation rates and even juvenile justice contacts. Chronic absenteeism is a complex issue that requires a thoughtful and complex response. Schools and students cannot fix this problem alone. Cross-sector partnerships with local and state health agencies, community-based organizations, community and business members and families must be leveraged to provide essential wraparound support to address the root causes of chronic absenteeism for all students. Creating these partnerships and welcoming school environments can impact absenteeism rates, high school graduation rates, school discipline and academic performance. Best and promising practices are most successful when they are systematically applied with knowledge of the local context.  Our shared role of support starts in children’s earliest years, by focusing on the importance of regular attendance with students, families and communities. As a state, we must work together improve these numbers.

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to kick off the school year by visiting two schools on the southern Oregon coast that have programs designed to boost attendance. Madison Elementary in Coos Bay and North Bay Elementary in North Bend both participate in the Tribal Attendance Pilot Project (TAPP), a collaboration between the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes that focuses on efforts to break down barriers that can lead to chronic absenteeism. Each school, in collaboration with tribal leaders, hired a family advocate with deep local connections to create a school-wide initiative to reduce chronic absenteeism. In 2016-17, each school created and implemented their own plan to best address the needs of their students and community.  Madison and North Bay Elementary Schools demonstrate that to make a significant change, it takes a team, with all members working toward the same goal of improving student attendance.

The Oregon Department of Education is working with its partners to share key strategies for improving attendance and reducing chronic absenteeism; learn more about them here.  Together, we can help ensure our children attend school so that they have the opportunity to achieve their dreams.

Portland Public Schools Middle School Educator Named 2018 Oregon Teacher of the Year


Mt. Tabor Middle School teacher Matthew Bacon-Brenes is Oregon’s 2018 Teacher of the Year! At a ceremony September 19, Oregon Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Salam Noor was joined by Mt. Tabor Middle School Principal Sean Keating in honoring Bacon-Brenes for his innovative practices, passion for excellence, and unwavering commitment to student success.

“Matthew is a master teacher who weaves his value for equity into everything he does,” said Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor. “Through Matthew’s multi-perspective approach to instruction, he ensures that his students grow to be globally informed citizens that can cross cultural divides. He truly represents the best and brightest among Oregon educators, and I am honored to name him Oregon’s 2018 Teacher of the Year.”

Matthew Bacon-Brenes has been foundational in helping create and sustain the Japanese immersion K-12 program in Portland Public Schools over the past 20 years, and his vision for the program has continued to shape its success in the community. Bacon-Brenes facilitates an annual, two-week long Japanese Research Residency trip for 8th grade students and chaperones, where students engage in and research themes around Japanese culture, history, and social science using surveys, interviews and other data-gathering techniques. Following this life-changing experience, students produce a capstone research project that captures their findings.

“Matt’s instructional leadership, unwavering work ethic, and deeply held beliefs around serving all children have been pillars of Mt. Tabor Middle School’s success,” said Jennifer Patterson, senior director of Franklin K-8 Schools for Portland Public Schools. “His humility, humor, and easy going demeanor make it easy for colleagues to learn alongside him and he has a magical influence on the effectiveness of his team as a professional learning community.”

In 2010, Bacon-Brenes was asked by his principal to lead a group of Mt. Tabor staff, administrators and counselors in examining the role of race in their work with students, families and the community. Using a program called Courageous Conversations, the newly formed Equity Team engaged in dialogue about race, privilege, and their own implicit and explicit biases. The work encourages educators to reflect and develop a greater sense of awareness of race and the persistent disparities that exist.

Bacon-Brenes said that his engagement with Courageous Conversations has transformed his work with students, parents, colleagues and curriculum. “I invite everyone to be a part of the Courageous Conversations protocol. While it isolates race, its idea of hearing a version of the facts different from the dominant paradigm has opened Mt. Tabor Middle School to embrace a much broader understanding of gender as well,” he added.

“Our world is changing at an ever-increasing clip. Prompting our students to think critically and creatively about how to manage those changes and participate meaningfully in community and in democracy is how we will foster citizens and leaders who can effectively take our world in a more inclusive, safe and peaceful direction,” said Bacon-Brenes.

The Oregon Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by the Oregon Department of Education in partnership with the Oregon Lottery. The Lottery provides a $5,000 cash award to the Teacher of the Year and a matching $5,000 award to the teacher’s school.

The Oregon Teacher of the Year is selected after an extensive application process. Nominees from schools throughout Oregon submitted packets of information that included testimonials and letters of support from their principals, superintendents, and colleagues. From the written material, applicants were assessed on leadership, instructional expertise, community involvement, understanding of educational issues, professional development, and vision.

As the 2018 Oregon Teacher of the Year, Matthew Bacon-Brenes will serve as a spokesperson and representative for all Oregon teachers. He will attend the Washington Recognition Week for Teachers of the Year in Washington, D.C. this spring, where he will meet the President and the U.S. Secretary of Education. Matthew will also be featured in a television commercial produced by the Oregon Lottery.

StudentsRoboticsThe Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the Oregon Department of Education is providing $650,000 in strategic investment grant funds for the support of projects focused on success indicators from the African American/Black Student Success Plan. These funds are being distributed through a competitive grant competition and you can find the Request for Applications (RFA) for the African American/Black Student Success Plan on the ODE website
Every eligible applicant is encouraged to apply. A technical assistance webinar was held on Wednesday, September 27 to provide guidance and answer questions about the RFP process. If you could not attend, a recording of the webinar is posted on the ODE YouTube channel.  

Contact Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Director Dr. Markisha Smith via email or phone at 503-947-5669 for more information.


Oregon’s State Plan -- What You Need to Know Now

Smarter Balanced Assessments
Streamlined Test Blueprints for 2017-18 at grades 3-8 and high school
  • Reduced testing time! New Smarter Balanced tests will reduce testing time by approximately 1 hour for English Language Arts across all tested grades, as well as a slight reduction in math
High School Assessment
  • The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) conducted a Request for Information (RFI) to identify potential test options; two vendors responded, including ACT and SAT
  • ODE will release a Request for Proposal (RFP) in Winter 2018 to find out more about the assessments’ alignment to Oregon standards and ability to demonstrate accessibility and accommodations necessary to meet the needs of all Oregon’s high school students, including students with disabilities and English learners

Report Card Redesign
We need your input!
The Oregon Department of Education is planning up to 5 regional caravan stops for approved health and physical education (PE) instructional materials. A regional caravan is a full day of presentations related to the new health/PE standards, instructional materials adoption criteria, and diversity and equity in health/PE. This opportunity is aimed at providing professional development for K-12 classroom teachers and school district staff. Potential topics to be covered include the new health and physical education standards and the instructional materials adoption criteria. Publishers will give presentations and have samples of their approved materials on site. 

Please fill out the following survey: if your school district is interested in attending one of the following regional caravans. 

Tentative Regional Events November/December 2017
Date TBD: Multnomah ESD
Date TBD: Willamette ESD
Date TBD: Southern Oregon ESD
Date TBD: High Desert ESD
Date TBD: Intermountain ESD

*Final sites will be determined based on level of interest from school districts. 

SafeOregonNow is a great time to sign your school up for SafeOregon, a school safety tip line program available to all public K-12 schools. 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. Before students can use it, though, SafeOregon requires schools to complete a sign-up process. 

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.

ConfederationofOregonSchoolAdministratorsThe 2017 Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA) Annual Principals Conference is coming up next month in Bend! Be sure to register today for the Lifting School Leaders event October 22-24. Speakers include Jamie Richardson, the National Digital Principal of the Year; Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, founder and director of The Trauma Stewardship Institute; and Ernest Morrell, Macy Professor of Education and director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME), Teachers College, Columbia University. More information on the speakers and the event, including an agenda, can be found on COSA’s events page.

Oregon’s Tribal Attendance Pilot Project Highlighted in National Webinar


September is Attendance Awareness Month and the non-profit group Attendance Works held a webinar on September 12 highlighting its recent report on chronic absenteeism. The report and webinar included a closer look at Oregon’s Tribal Attendance Pilot Project (TAPP), a collaboration between the Oregon Department of Education, the state’s nine federally recognized tribes and nine school districts around the state. You can watch the webinar on the Attendance Works website. There is more about TAPP on the ODE website including details of each district’s plan and resources any school can use. The budget passed by lawmakers this year and signed into law by Governor Brown includes funding for TAPP for two more school years.

Addressing chronic absenteeism is one of the strategies to improve graduation as identified under the eight critical elements developed by the Graduation Advisory Committee. You can read more about the strategy on the chronic absenteeism one-pager which includes additional resources for more information. Our Graduation improvement web pages have plenty more information about the eight critical elements and the many strategies that districts around the state are using to make sure more students are leaving high school with their diplomas.

Attendance Works also wants superintendents around the country to pledge to support improving attendance starting in early grades. Learn more about the pledge on the Attendance Works website.

Oregon Assessment Results Released

HighSchoolStudentsThe results are in for two assessment reports on Oregon students. The Smarter Balanced Assessments given to students in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school were made public September 14. You can read our news release on the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) website and also find the results from your district or school.

The College Board released SAT and Advanced Placement results September 26. ODE also issued a news release on those results. The College Board does not post district level data on its website, but you can look at Oregon’s overall results there.


While some much-needed rain has come to Oregon, there are still multiple large fires burning and producing smoke in the state. On September 8, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) distributed resources for schools and districts to help them make decisions on whether students should have activities outdoors, such as recess or sporting events.

The Oregon Health Authority has a Wildfire and Smoke page on its website with many materials including a fact sheet that is available in six different languages.
ODE will continue to provide updates from these primary sources through its Twitter account; please subscribe to these updates @OrDeptEd.
If you have any additional questions, please contact ODE Sexual Health and School Health Specialist  Ely Sanders at 503-947-5904.

ODE has also been asked how weather, climate and global climate change are addressed in the current academic science standards. These disciplinary core ideas are an integral part of the K-12 Oregon Science Standards (Next Generation Science Standards). If you are interested in learning more about the standards and their development, please visit the official website of the Next Generation Science Standards or download a free copy of the National Research Council’s “A Framework for K-12 Science Education” which is the foundational document that was utilized in the development of the Next Generation Science Standards.

The Oregon State Board of Education officially adopted the new Oregon Science Standards in March 2014. These standards foster students’ engagement in scientific phenomena and engineering design challenges through three-dimensional learning. Additional resources to support the implementation of these standards can be found on the Oregon Department of Education – Science Updates page.
Theresa Richards is the new Interim Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Teaching, Learning and Assessment (OTLA).  She succeeds Dawne Huckaby, who left ODE to become the new director of assessment & accountability at Thompson School District in Loveland, Colorado.

Richards comes to this leadership position with a wealth of experience, most recently from her role as the director of federal systems in OTLA. She has provided statewide leadership in policy and practice at the Department since 1996, on key initiatives such as the Oregon Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act, Oregon’s flexibility waiver under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, PK-20 Redesign and the Oregon Diploma, New Century High Schools, and the Certificate of Advanced Mastery under the Oregon Act for the 21st Century. 

Prior to her service with ODE, Theresa taught for 15 years in Oregon’s System of Higher Education at Oregon Institute of Technology and the Oregon Health Sciences University. 

Johnna Timmes is the new Interim Assessment Director while also continuing to lead the Data, Operations and Grant Support Team, a role she has ably fulfilled since September 2015. TImmes initially came to ODE to serve as the administrator for the Network for Quality Teaching and Learning, to develop systems and provide policy recommendations for implementation of $33 million in strategic investments.
Prior to her work at ODE, Johnna was a classroom teacher for 10 years and Lead of Lower School for two years in Chicago Public Schools and Skokie School District in Illinois. She has also managed large grants for the national office of the Council for Exceptional Children in Washington, DC and worked as a leadership coach for Parkrose School District in Oregon.
Laura Foley became the new Director of Secondary/Post-Secondary Transitions and Career and Technical Education (CTE) on September 1st. Laura comes to ODE from the Lebanon Community School District, where she served as College and Career Readiness Director for the past two years.  Her work in the district encompassed students in grades K-12.  
Over the course of her career Foley has specialized in helping establish career pathways for secondary students.  Laura also worked as an associate principal at Lebanon High School where she focused on working with CTE teachers, establishing a top notch AVID program, and helping the school network with local business leaders.  She worked diligently to secure grants from state businesses, including Nike and Gear Up.  Laura was also instrumental in reestablishing the welding program at the high school.  
HigherEducationCoordinatingCommissionlogoThe Higher Education Coordinating Commission, Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC) is pleased to announce the several upcoming webinars to help Oregon students and educators better understand financial aid options. OSAC administers student financial aid programs for the State of Oregon, including the Oregon Opportunity Grant, Oregon Promise and over 500 privately funded scholarships. 

Upcoming webinars cover a wide variety of topics including: Grants and Scholarships, Oregon Promise, Resources for Undocumented Students, Funds for Foster Youth and more. OSAC webinars are free and open to all interested individuals, and several will be hosted in Spanish. To view the webinar calendar and register to attend, visit the OSAC Outreach and Resources Page. If you are interested in these topics but the dates don’t work for your schedule, you can still access the recorded webinars on the OSAC YouTube Channel.   

OSAC 2017-18 Financial Aid Publications and Resources

In addition to webinars, OSAC provides in-person presentations, mentoring, publications and other resources to communicate financial aid opportunities; learn more on the OSAC website here.  OSAC recently published several new publications and resources on 2017-18 financial aid programs and services, available for download or order on the OSAC Publications and Resources webpage, including:
  • The OSAC Programs and Deadlines handout, providing a quick update on OSAC programs, deadlines for financial aid opportunities, college fair dates, and more.
  • The new Oregon Promise Handout provides information on rolling deadlines, eligibility requirements, and application guidelines for the Oregon Promise Grant for 2017-18. The Oregon Promise application will re-open in late September.
  • Use this new Oregon Promise term eligibility tool on the OSAC website to find out a student's application deadline for the Oregon Promise.
The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) is currently accepting applications from teachers, curriculum specialists, and other experienced professionals for the 2017 Social Sciences Instructional Materials Criteria Development Committee. Please obtain approval from your administrator prior to filling out the application. Individuals selected to participate will receive professional development, travel reimbursement, and an honorarium.

Please visit the following link: for more information on what committee member participation will require. The survey should take between 20-30 minutes to complete.

For more information, contact Jeremy A. Wartz, ODE Instructional Materials Coordinator at (503) 947-5736.

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