Oregon just got a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Law. This is a positive step forward for the state as we seek to improve our education system for all kids. Oregon should be able to develop its own strong system of support and accountability for our schools.
But what does this 125-page waiver mean for our schools and our kids?
Here’s our take:
- We’ve committed to implementing the “Common
Core Standards” so that students in Oregon will be learning the same
high-level, core content as students across the country.
How is this different from what’s happening now?
Historically, states have written their own standards. They vary state-to-state in terms of how rigorous they are and what they focus on year-to-year. A key part of developing these standards requires that Oregon have a clear plan for how we will ensure that all kids – especially kids learning English and students with disabilities – will benefit from these new, higher standards for learning. In moving to Common Core, Oregon has also committed to using a new test of student learning and measuring kids on a broader range of skills.
This is critically important because Oregon must get many more kids reading at high levels. The 8th grade reading scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress haven’t significantly changed in more than 40 years despite better reading scores at earlier grades.
We’ve committed to supporting and intervening in schools where students aren’t making progress.
How is this different from NCLB?
Under NCLB, every school was expected to get to the same goal: 100% of students on grade level in reading and math. When schools didn’t reach this goal, the response was sanctions. As part of the waiver, Oregon must identify the 15% of schools that are struggling most to help students achieve and show learning growth. Schools would be measured according to the number of kids at grade level, average student growth and growth among disadvantaged students. But instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to improvement, school districts and the state will have the flexibility to provide support tailored to meet the unique needs of the individual school. The plans for identifying and working with priority & focus schools will be developed during the 2012-13 school year and implemented the following year.
To help parents and the community better understand how their schools are doing compared to other schools, we’ve also committed to creating a new school report card.
- We’ve committed to improving support and
evaluations for principals and teachers. In Oregon, we’ve defined that as
evaluations that meet the following criteria:
1. Designed to improve teaching and learning
2. Have at least four levels of effectiveness
3. Include multiple measures of effectiveness including student learning and observations
4. Designed by local school districts with guidance from the state
What’s Next? Stay tuned for more information about how you can support your school community in these efforts.