When we began CLASS as an initiative to empower educators and raise student achievement, we started with three districts and a limited pool of private funding. Now, we have engaged over 6,000 educators in 18 districts in the framework. The demand for educator-led transformation continues to grow. Chalkboard is committed to finding avenues to help every Oregon district ready to participate in CLASS-like efforts.
Funding the design and implementation of CLASS requires initial time and resources. Teacher-led design in performance evaluation, professional development, expanded career paths and new compensation models is a result of patient, sustained work over time. During this time of economic challenge, we see three separate opportunities for funding.
First, Chalkboard expects to award three new CLASS design grants in 2012. These smaller grants allow districts to bring a group of educators together to do initial design work around the components.
The other day I was talking to a colleague when he referenced how a teacher he supervises had been in a conundrum. Wanting to be innovative, that teacher had assigned a film project but did not have enough cameras for her students. My colleague had walked in and seen her angst, but then suggested that she ask if any students had a smartphone. Surprised that he would suggest this, she asked her class and several students raised their hands. My colleague then told her, “problem solved.”
I wish that more administrators were like my colleague. While I have been fortunate to work with schools that have been taking strides to update their technological infrastructure, my experience walking through many schools is unsettling. In an age where technological expertise is a select ticket to rapid employment and economic opportunity, our schools are rarely beacons of progress. As tech geeks like myself eagerly await the promise of the next round of iPads, schools are still hampered by draconian rules that ban smartphones and a teaching community that crawls rather than bounds toward technological integration.
This afternoon we held the second webinar in our virtual brown bag series on value-added measures. The recorded presentation (audio + powerpoint) can be viewed or downloaded here.
The presentation and discussion include an explanation of what VAM is, how it is different than other measures of school performance, and a bit of national and local context around how it is being used in education. The webinar features talks from Kevin Booker from Mathetmatica Research, Andrew Dyke from ECONorthwest, and Kathleen Sundell from the Salem Keizer Education Association. Feel free to post questions for the experts in the comments section.
In the future, what topic would you like to learn more about?
Looking to keep you informed and keep your questions answered, we want to know what you think our next webinar topic should be. Post your ideas in the comments section or email them to email@example.com, and stay tuned for information about our next virtual brown bag webinar!
WHAT IS A ‘VALUE-ADDED MODEL’ AND HOW IS ‘VAM’ BEING USED IN OREGON?
We are continuing our webinar series with a conversation about value-added models–a complex statistical tool for measuring student growth. The discussion will include an explanation of what VAM is, how it is different than other measures of school performance, and a bit of national and local context around how it is being used in education.
Each of these virtual brown bags are designed to provide you with relevant news about education issues and to hear first-hand accounts of ongoing developments from local, state and national policy experts and educators.
JOIN US FOR THIS CONVERSATION.
TOPIC: What is a value-added model?
WHEN: Wednesday, February 22, 12:00 PM- 1:00 PM
WHERE: Join us online at http://bit.ly/yFz1V4
Jen Barth, preschool parent, co-founder of “Books Make it Better,” and blogger, shares what she is doing to make education better in Oregon.
I’m writing this post on the final stretch of a plane ride back to Portland from Washington, DC, returning from a UN Foundation conference, where I was invited to speak on a panel about Books Make It Better, a grassroots early literacy program I started last Fall. As our plane heads home towards Portland, it strikes me what a difference just one year can make in the realm of personal activism.
Let me back up and introduce myself. I’m not an educator. I’m not a policy maker. I haven’t even been to Salem (yet). I’m simply a preschool parent, and relative Oregon newcomer, who decided last year to choose action over apathy as I began learning more about the many challenges facing Oregon’s schools.
Dr. Mike Schmoker’s most recent book, Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning has some key messages worth serious consideration. He argues persuasively for attending first and foremost to the improvement of curriculum and instruction – at the exclusion of everything else. And, he asserts, if we focus on what matters most, we can rapidly improve student achievement across the board.
Here are his key messages:
- The curriculum that is actually taught is the one that matters. The scope of the written, adopted curriculum (often expressed as standards) is far too broad and often littered with low value targets. Grade level teams of teachers should work to reach professional agreements on a limited set of “power” learning outcomes – and then all teach to them with no exception.
- We know how to teach the curriculum. We don’t have to wait for the discovery of effective techniques. Effective instruction is not mysterious or even especially difficult to implement. Every teacher in every classroom in every school needs to focus on the basics of instruction until they become routine and automatic.
I recently toured a nonprofit in Medford called Kids Unlimited. KU identifies traditionally disadvantaged students at an early age and provides them with extra-curricular activities, academic support and mentorship in hope that they will stay in school and earn diplomas. Of the first 18 students who entered the KU program ten years ago, 12 of them graduated from high school, and KU’s success has only grown since then. It took me two minutes with the KU founder, Tom Cole, to recognize that he is a gem of a leader – visionary, committed, charismatic, and no-nonsense. I asked him what he thinks is the key to KU’s success. He gave a one word response – relationships.
I’ve been thinking about that word a lot lately. I’ve shared this story with others. When I got to “relationships” in the story one colleague responded, “You can’t teach that.”
For the past few months, in the right hand sidebar we have asked our readers to answer a very important, but challenging, question: If you had to focus Oregon’s investment in public education on one effort, what would it be?
33 readers gave us their answers:
- Closing the achievement gap (30%, 10 Votes)
- Broader school choices (charters, magnets, focus schools) (18%, 6 Votes)
- Professional development (15%, 5 Votes)
- Early childhood programs (15%, 5 Votes)
- Parental support programs in struggling communities (15%, 5 Votes)
- Mentoring new teachers (6%, 2 Votes)
- Higher education (1%, 0 Votes)
According to the poll, focusing on closing the achievement gap in Oregon is what many of you think is most important. The recent release of the data surrounding Oregon high school graduation rates showed only 67 percent of students graduate in 4 years. These results also showed that the achievement gap is narrowing. The 4-year graduation rates for Native American, African American and Hispanic students all increased this year. This is a step in the right direction. Read more.
With the recent release of the data surrounding Oregon high school graduation rates, it is clear there is work to do. Although this year’s graduation rate did increase by one percent, this means that two in three students are graduating in four years, and one in three are failing to.
According to an article on The Oregonian’s website, Governor Kitzhaber “has vowed to shine a bright light on the state’s chronically low graduation rate to spur more intensive efforts to improve it.” Kitzhaber would like to obligate districts to use “achievement compacts,” which would require a district to spell out results it aims to deliver, creating a more informed conversation about how well Oregon’s schools are preparing every student for citizenship, college or career. Kitzhaber also aims to improve grad rates by encouraging less successful districts to model themselves after more successful districts.
Kate Dickson of the Chalkboard Project suggests that if we are serious about increasing the high school graduation rate for Oregon students, and assuring that students are prepared for college and career, an essential first step is to ensure that there is an effective teacher in every classroom. Effective teachers have more impact on student achievement than any other in-school factor.