Children First of Oregon, Policy Associate & Former Chalkboard Project Employee
Stacy Michaelson graduated from Willamette University with a BA in Politics in December 2008. She then worked as a Legislative Aide during Oregon’s 2009 legislative session, where she became familiar with Chalkboard’s efforts to improve education in Oregon. Having interned with the Department of Education during her time at Willamette, Stacy has a passion for education policy that stems from her experiences attending a small, rural school in Southern Oregon; this passion led her to Chalkboard as a member of the staff in October 2009.
After convening in January to swear in new members and establish committees, the Oregon Legislative Assembly has been in recess until this week. The Legislature reconvened on February 1st to begin regular legislative business. There are a number of important education-related bills this session to keep your eye on, including two from Chalkboard and I wanted to provide an over of important information about the session as well as highlights from a selection of the education-related bills.
There are quite a few new faces in the Legislature this session and, accordingly, the Senate and House Education Committees look a bit different than in previous sessions. Committee membership is as follows:
Senate Education Committee:
Mark Hass, Chair
Frank Morse, Vice-Chair
House Education Committee:
Sara Gelser, Co-Chair
Matt Wingard, Co-Chair
Jason Conger, Co-Vice Chair
Lew Frederick, Co-Vice Chair
John E Huffman
Senate Bill 252
Establishes a “School District Collaboration Grant Program” to provide funding for school districts to locally redesign and implement programs and policies that integrate new:
- Career paths
- Professional development strategies
- Evaluation processes
- Teacher designed compensation systems
This legislation builds on the promising work being done by educators in the CLASS Project. Funding for the grant would come from a portion of dollars currently allocated to Education Service Districts (ESDs). ESDs currently receive 4.75% of the State School Fund. This bill calls for the .75% to be put in the fund to support investments in effective teaching. Read More
Senate Bill 290
Directs State Board of Education to work with stakeholders to develop statewide performance standards to determine effectiveness of teachers and administrators. This bill calls on the State Board of Education to work with the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission to adopt statewide performance standards to assist school districts in determining the effectiveness of teachers and administrators. The bill requires the performance standards to: take into consideration multiple measures of student, school and district performance; be research-based; and be separately developed for teachers and administrators. Read More.
After the LA Times published effectiveness rankings of 4th and 5th grade teachers in the Los Angeles School District earlier this year, there has been much public debate over the use of value-added models (VAM). A VAM is intended to be a statistical analysis of a teacher’s effect on student achievement, taking into account a student’s past performance and expected academic growth. While discussions of VAM are not new to educators or policy wonks, a group from the Brown Center for Education Policy at the Brookings Institute recently released a report on some of the questions and concerns surrounding VAM.
The report, “Evaluating Teachers: The Important Role of Value-Added,” was produced by the Brookings Brown Center Task Group on Teacher Quality. The task group included: Steven Glazerman, Mathematica Policy Research; Susanna Loeb, Stanford University; Dan Goldhaber, University of Washington; Douglas Staiger, Dartmouth University; Stephen Raudenbush, University of Chicago; and Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, The Brookings Institution.
Here are some highlights from the report:
- Whether value-added information should be a component of teacher evaluation is a different question than how teacher evaluations impact human resource policies and decisions.
- Much of the concern with VAM is over the fear that an effective teacher could be misclassified as ineffective; yet, in many other professional fields, we readily accept that evaluations are not 100% fool-proof and that imprecise measures are often used to make “high stakes decisions that place societal or institutional interests above those of individuals.”
- “…the interests of students and the interests of teachers in classification errors are not always congruent…” While there is rightfully concern over effective teachers being misclassified as ineffective, we also need to weigh this against the consequences for students of labeling ineffective teachers as satisfactory.
- “…all decision-making systems have classification error. The goal is to minimize the most costly classification mistakes, not eliminate all of them.”
- Rather than holding an unrealistic standard of perfection for teacher evaluations, we should compare value-added models to other forms of teacher evaluation and classification. (more…)
The State Board of Education is meeting today to discuss and vote on adoption of national common core standards as well as Oregon’s math achievement standards.
The Common Core Standards Initiative was started to determine best practices and recommendations for what every K-12 student should know and be able to do regardless of where they live. The educational standards that were developed over the course of the initiative are intended to prepare all students for college or career.
A majority of states have already adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and today the State Board of Education will discuss Oregon’s adoption of the standards.
In preparation for today’s meeting, an issue brief has been prepared by the Office of Educational Improvement and Innovation at the Oregon Department of Education. The brief provides an overview of the work that has been done in the state thus far as well as potential changes and challenges that would come with adoption of the standards.
According to the brief, possible challenges are:
- Due to the larger amount of content in the English language arts (ELA) and Math Kindergarten standards, districts that do not offer full-day kindergarten will need to develop strategies to ensure first graders do not fall behind.
- The expectation in the ELA standards that reading is to be a shared instructional responsibility across content areas will require professional development (e.g., vocabulary, comprehension of grade-level text) for middle school and high school non-ELA teachers.
- The math knowledge and skills that have been “pushed down” to lower grades throughout grades K-8 will require some teachers at those grades to become more proficient in the new content itself, in addition to developing effective instructional practices to help students learn.
- Due to the large number of math standards at most grade levels, math departments will need to determine the best way to cover the required content while still teaching to proficiency. (more…)
When I posted an interview with former Western Oregon University professor, Bob Turner, about Oregon students’ college preparedness, I received a question about student work experience and partnerships between schools and local businesses. I didn’t have a simple answer – and still don’t – but, I have done some digging on Oregon’s policies.
The Oregonian recently published an article about a hands-on program for high school counselors to learn about trade apprenticeships so that they can better share accurate information with the students they serve. Given this recent article, I felt it was an appropriate time to revisit the issue of career preparation in our schools.
According to the Oregonian article: “Many students don’t consider a career in a trade because they’re only told about college, said John Nelsen, who organized this first Union Apprenticeship Teacher’s Workshop.”
It may be true that a lot of students are not informed of their options in the trades. A little research also indicates that there is great variance across the state in terms of what career-related information students receive. (more…)
A number of you responded to our poll on the influence of class size in high schools. 72% believe that class size makes a great difference, and 21% believe that class size makes some difference, while only 3% said that it does not make a difference (the rest said they didn’t know).
Class size is a popular topic when it comes to conversations about education and education reform. The truth is, opinions are mixed. Research shows that class size can make a difference, with studies finding significant student learning gains attributable to small classes in kindergarten and first grade in particular. There is less conclusive research that smaller classes in later grades has a similarly significant impact on student learning, although some advocacy groups do call for smaller classes across the board.
USA Today recently featured an article discussing class size decisions in school districts and their impact on students.
Feel free to share your thoughts on class size in the comments section of this post. I also hope you will respond to our new poll on the potential effects of the state’s budget shortfall in the sidebar.
Sen. Mark Hass, Chair of the Senate Education and General Government Committee, spoke to teachers about education funding on August 11th at Chalkboard’s Teacher Advocacy Training. We recently posted a video to YouTube of the senator speaking.
Watch Sen. Mark Hass Speaking to Teachers about Oregon’s budget
These comments were made before the recent release of the latest revenue forecast, which predicts another $373 million shortfall. What do you think of Sen. Hass’ statements in light of today’s news about the budget? What are your thoughts for sustaining education – supporting our students and our teachers – through the next difficult budget cycle?
Oregon has received $34.4 million for schools through the federal School Improvement Grant. The Oregon Department of Education is seeking public input as it weighs the options for moving forward with these funds. Specifically, ODE is considering applying for a waiver on the directive to carry forward 25% of the funds into the next year.
The Department’s call for public input states: (more…)
With many of Oregon’s students graduating from high school last month, it seemed appropriate to look at the college and career readiness of Oregon’s high school graduates. So, I decided to conduct an interview with someone who has first-hand experience with Oregon’s grads.
Bob Turner is a former professor of biology at Western Oregon University. Prior to working at WOU, Bob taught at both Wesleyan University and Clackamas Community College. Bob holds a BS in Biology from Seattle University and a PhD in Embryology from the University of Oregon. His research interests include cell interactions in embryos and the immune system, nontraditional teaching methods, and peer mentoring to increase student success. His policy interests include the alignment of high school proficiency and university and community college expectations, the adoption of an internship/residency program for teachers in training, and objective models of student assessment for high school through college. (more…)