Archive for the ‘ Chalkboard Project ’ Category

In the spring of 2012, I worked with Chalkboard Project to form the Distinguished Educators Council (DEC). Chalkboard’s idea was to convene a team of educators recognized for their teaching excellence. The goal was to bring them together at meetings to discuss current issues important to teachers, and engage them in amplifying teachers’ voices in Oregon’s education policy-making arena.

Thirty-four distinguished teachers applied to be part of the new council, and after a thorough and thoughtful review process thirteen were invited to join. Through my role as an advisor and facilitator, I maintained that Chalkboard was asking the DEC for one important thing—ideas to support and strengthen teaching in Oregon.

After five months of reading and discussion, the council adopted five research-based recommendations to help teachers. The recommendations centered on teacher preparation, evaluation, professional learning, leadership opportunities, and supporting all students. The council’s full report is on Chalkboard’s website.

From fall of 2012 to spring of 2013, the council shared their ideas with policy-making bodies, which included the State Board of Education, the Oregon Education Investment Board, and the Oregon Legislature. And, the council was thrilled to see the legislature form the Network for Quality Teaching and Learning, a new OEIB-initiative that reflects the council’s recommendations.

The council spent last summer discussing over 50 concrete ideas for making their five core recommendations realities, and narrowed those ideas to two areas of focus – support for cooperating teachers working with new teacher candidates, and providing teachers time for collaboration and professional learning. Since then, the council has been researching and considering these topics in depth, and they are excited to advocate specific ideas to policy-makers in the coming months.

When the council first convened I wondered if these teachers trusted the sincerity of Chalkboard’s charge, to generate ideas to support and strengthen teaching in Oregon, and were they assured that Chalkboard was not simply looking for a rubber-stamp of its own agenda? Yet in the fall of 2012, I read comments from the DEC council about their participation that expressed how invigorated and empowered they were by this work, and several called it the most meaningful professional development experience of their careers.

Which brings us to the present. I’m excited to continue to work with the Distinguished Educators Council and engage teachers directly in Oregon’s education policy-making process. And I am excited to announce that Chalkboard Project is now accepting applications from teachers to join the Distinguished Educators Council. You can find details and an application form at this website.

Introduction The U.S. Department of Education, using four year adjusted cohort rates, reported Oregon was forty-ninth in high school graduation rankings for the 2011-2012 year. While alarming, the resulting discussion over how the rankings are formulated and what these figures measure within each state is an intriguing one. This blog post presents a perspective on this rating process.

President of ECONorthwest John Tapogna specializes in education, social, and fiscal policy.

He has directed evaluations of dropout prevention programs, the impacts of small class sizes, and the efficacy of small schools. Prior to joining ECONorthwest, John was an analyst at the U.S. Congressional Budget Office. He holds degrees from the University of Oregon and Harvard University’s School of Government.

Oregon’s 68 percent high school graduation rate has been the subject of considerable debate. But, relative to other states, does Oregon really deserve its bottom tier status?  Probably not.

On-time, cohort graduation rates are a new measure. To illustrate this, we dug into the graduation rates for the 2010-11 school year.  Oregon’s near the bottom of the pack. Then we looked four years earlier—spring 2007—at the performance of Oregon eighth graders on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics exam. These are largely the same kids—just earlier in their educational careers.

Seventy-three percent of Oregon eighth graders met the NAEP standard for basic math proficiency in 2007. That was middle of pack—twenty-fourth in the US. Four years later, 68 percent of the cohort graduated on time.

Connecticut and Maryland students performed similarly on the 2007 NAEP—73 and 74 percent at basic math proficiency, respectively. Yet, both states registered 83 percent on-time graduation rates in 2011—15 percentage points higher than Oregon.

So, what’s going on?


One interpretation is that Oregon’s high schools are a disaster—dropout factories—while Maryland and Connecticut’s are over-performers.

But that’s unlikely the case. Two factors are more likely.

First, Oregon is holding itself to a tighter standard and doesn’t count diplomas that other states include (e.g., modified diplomas to students with special needs).

Second, the growing popularity of five-year high schools, which blend community college work into the final years, is probably depressing Oregon’s rate. To date, federal statistics haven’t looked at graduates who take extra time.

The upshot?

Interstate comparisons of newly devised high school graduation rate figures are misleading. In recent years, they have overstated the Oregon K-12 challenge. Were one to devise and implement a common national standard for high school graduation, I suspect you’d find Oregon right in the middle the pack. That said, there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

More information

Oregonian article, “Oregon graduation rate barely budges…”, Feb. 6, 2014

My great nephew recently announced to his parents his intent to finish college and get his teaching license to teach science at the high school level and coach soccer. His father, a business major, tried to dissuade him, not because teaching is not an honorable and noble profession, but because spending the money on a master’s degree, teaching license, and the debt that his son might incur in the process and the entry level salary and increases he would make did not make good economic sense.

One of the major challenges faced in teacher preparation program reform work today is attracting and recruiting bright, young, talented students to careers in teaching.

A new report released recently from The New Teacher Project (TNTP) sheds light on the problems with an inflexible archaic pay structure built solely on degrees and years of experience. It clearly illustrates the inherent problems with the pay structure used in more than 90 percent of our school districts in the U.S. today.

Some people say that pay is not important for teachers, yet in a survey of 11,000 teachers in three of the nation’s largest school districts, two thirds of the respondents indicate that they would choose to teach in schools offering either a base salary increase, or bonuses to the top performing teachers over a school with a traditional pay system, all else being equal.

There are numerous districts in the U.S. that are working with new pay structures and are gaining ground in dealing with the aforementioned problems. Their work serves as a model for the rest of the country. While pay is only one piece of the solution, it is a big piece and one that we can tackle.

Key Factors

  • Moving to a new structure is a process and not an event; it will take time and teacher input.
  • The use of performance pay increases will require strong teacher evaluation systems that are consistently implemented, clearly communicated to teachers, and generally understood by all involved.
  • School leaders will need to be trained in the use of the evaluation system with observation skills and tools in order to avoid inflated ratings.
  • Teachers will need a clearly articulated way to address any concerns with their evaluations.
  • Strong differentiated and relevant professional development will need to be available for teachers to feel supported in improving their teaching.


More Information

Shortchanged: The Hidden Costs of Lockstep Teacher Pay (2014)

The Irreplaceables:Understanding the Real Retention Crisis in America’s Urban Schools (2012)

Closing the talent gap: Attracting and retaining top third graduates to a career in teaching (2010)

White Rhino Blog on Why I discourage Latino students from becoming teachers


We’ve been talking a lot about equity recently. Whether it’s about student achievement and opportunity gaps or about ensuring our teacher workforce is culturally and ethnically diverse, the truth is Chalkboard has been committed to equity in education since its inception. In fact, we’ve had an educational equity policy embedded in our vision statement for several years now. Our vision is to see Oregon’s K-12 public schools among the best in the nation as measured by student achievement and educational equity. Yet, Oregon’s achievement gaps remain stagnant, even while states similar to Oregon in demographics and funding are narrowing theirs. Our CLASS districts are consistently narrowing the poverty gap, but fluctuating in their results along racial lines.

Pull quote Sue 7 29 14We are determined to align our internal and external resources for greater equity. We especially want to better understand the underpinnings of racial equity. One year ago, Chalkboard staff started down a learning path to build awareness and a shared understanding and analysis of structural racism, and the challenges that deep institutional and societal inequities present to our work. We’ve accomplished quite a few milestones—from completing an organizational assessment to developing a strategic framework and action plan. This has led to Chalkboard staff drafting its first-ever racial equity policy, which was reviewed and adopted by our board earlier this month.

Our policy reflects the core values and principles we have set forth to inform and drive our transformational work on equity, diversity, and inclusion. These are:

  • Diversity as it drives discovery
  • Collaboration and shared leadership
  • Quality education as a basic human right
  • An inclusive and dynamic workplace
  • Mutual respect and understanding

We recognize that we cannot do this work alone. Chalkboard will invest in partnerships with diverse leaders and community organizations to help us build a better Oregon for our children. We will deepen our relationships with communities of color. And we will promote greater understanding among policymakers that the achievement gap has social and economic implications.

We acknowledge that we will achieve our equity, diversity, and inclusion goals only as we assume individual and collective responsibility. Chalkboard Project is committed to these goals and moves forward with great enthusiasm and engagement.

hildarosseli oldshotThe gap between student and educator demographics in Oregon continues to widen. Although Oregon’s students of color made up more than one-third of the K-12 population in 2013, less than 9 percent of Oregon’s teacher workforce was non-white with the most notable gap found between Latino students (21.5 percent) and Latino teachers (3.6 percent). It is clear that Oregon’s efforts to address this gap has had limited impact since 1991 when the Minority Teacher Act was passed.

During the 2013 Legislative Session, Senate Bill 755 amended the original Act, providing a revised goal for 2015 and changing the definition of “Minority” to include educators whose first language is not English.   An Oregon Educator Equity Advisory Group has been formed to continually advise the development of the required reports but to also assess, evaluate and advocate for continuous accountability and improvement of conditions and policies that impact educator equity.


The Oregon Education Investment Board released a 2014 status report this month, showing that as of July 1, 2013, Oregon is on track to meet the 2015 goal of increasing the percentage of minority candidates graduated from Oregon’s public educator preparation programs by 10 percent as compared to July 2, 2012. The 2012-13 data show that the annual yield of minority candidates graduating from public educator preparation programs increased by sixteen and that minority graduates accounted for 14.3 percent of the total numbers who graduated.

As of 2014, Oregon is very close to being on track to meet the 2015 goal of increasing the percentage of minority administrators employed by school districts and education service districts by 10 percent as compared to July 2, 2012. The 2013-14 data reveal that the number of culturally and linguistically diverse administrators employed in Oregon public schools has increased by 18 since 2011-12 and is currently 10.8 percent of the employed administrator workforce.

However, Oregon is not on track to meet the 2015 goal of increasing the percentage of minority teachers employed by school districts and education services districts by 10% as compared to July 2, 2012. In 2013-14 the number of culturally and linguistically diverse teachers employed in Oregon public schools (2,401) only increased by 10 additional teachers from the previous year. That means that only (8.46 percent) of the employed teacher workforce are minority and that the gap has slightly increased.  Although the reduction may be in part due in part to staff reductions in recent years and that some teachers may have been selected to fill positions as administrators, there would need to be an additional 229 teachers employed in Oregon public schools to meet the goal of SB 755 by July 2015.

minEdRpt pullquote

Educators of color serve as cultural brokers, not only helping students navigate their school environment and culture, but also increasing involvement of families and communities of color which in turn impacts student attendance, achievement, graduation rates and postsecondary aspirations. Furthermore, diversifying the field of education has both an immediate and long-term impact of closing the academic achievement gap. Research has shown that when matched with a teacher of the same ethnicity, elementary-level students of color performed higher on academic achievement tests than those students of color who are not taught by a teacher of color (Dee, 2004; Eddy and Easton-Brooks, 2011). Dr. Easton Brooks, now dean of the College of Education and Business at Eastern Oregon University found that African American students who had at least one African American teacher between kindergarten and 5th grade scored 1.50 points higher in reading than those students who did not have at least one African American teacher at the end of kindergarten.

Chalkboard’s TeachOregon projects have potential for helping to close the demographic gap as do the pipeline and retention grants funded by the Network for Quality Teaching and Learning this year. But it will take a statewide multi-faceted approach that includes collaboration with:

  • Communities of color and professional associations who can help recruit future educators
  • Community college and university programs that prepare new educators
  • School and district personnel who recruit, hire and place new employees
  • School leaders and teachers who create inclusive work environments
  • Policymakers who can create statewide initiatives that help recruit educators and career advancement opportunities to help retain them
Aimee Craig January 16th, 2014 | Aimee Craig


After over six years with the Chalkboard Project, I’ll be leaving my office and signing out of my email for the last time. It has been an honor to work for this organization and towards the mission of strengthening education in Oregon. I am so grateful for the amazing people I’ve had the opportunity to work with and for during my time here.

As I’ve reflected on my work at Chalkboard, there have been a number of lessons learned and insights that have come up for me. I want to share a few with all of you in acrostic form—just to keep it interesting.


  • It takes courage to take action knowing full well that people might not agree with you and they might be loud about it. I used to think I needed tougher skin so that I wouldn’t worry about what others thought, but now I believe that courage is standing up for what you believe in, feeling the pushback, and continuing to move forward regardless.


Recently I made the announcement that I will be stepping back from my day-to-day work with Chalkboard. This change is driven largely by healthy family considerations, a time that I hope will be devoted more to being a husband, father, and grandfather. What you have heard is true…being a grandparent really does change one’s priorities in life! Although I will no longer be in an active daily role as an educational leader, I will continue to serve our staff and Board in an advisory capacity. We have an amazing team in place, with talented leaders like Deborah Sommer who will step in and capably move the work forward with skill and grace. I love the work of Chalkboard and the difference we have made. This journey has been a joy on so many levels.

I did not always feel this way. Almost four years ago, I co-authored an op-ed piece in the Oregonian with two respected colleagues and friends, Vickie Fleming and Sue Levin. At the invitation of then Governor Kulongoski and State Superintendent Susan Castillo, we had attempted to lead a comprehensive state effort to apply for a federal Race to the Top Grant. In our published article we offered candid acknowledgement that the effort had failed, and we issued a call to action for our state to step up. (more…)

Chalkboard’s goal since its inception has been and continues to be helping to make Oregon’s public schools among the nation’s best. Looking back on 2013, I am pleased to say that real steps have been taken to move Oregon closer to a top 10 education system. Innovative educators, strong education leaders, bold legislators and a focused Governor all helped to make 2013 a year of moving in the right direction. If you haven’t read our legislative re-cap or our holiday message, please do. There is much left to be done to ensure every student in Oregon gets a great education, but we are making progress.

Chalkboard’s strong staff makes this forward momentum possible as well. 2014 will bring with it new, strong leaders to the organization and a few others will be moving on to their next adventures. (more…)

ariwubboldAri has a background in legislative research and political science. He supports DHM Research principals and associates with report writing, website maintenance, and project management. He was until recently a research assistant for the Office of Government Relations at Portland State University. Before that he served on the staff of the Center for Public Service, specializing in social media assistance and website development.

Ari graduated from the University of Oregon and holds a B.A. in English Literature. He is currently attending Portland State University as a Master’s student in Political Science.

DHM Research is proud and excited to be working with the Chalkboard Project on the 2013 Oregon Student Survey. This study is an effort to learn what Oregon high school students think about public education in our state. To date, as part of the non-scientific, student engagement portion of the project, 300 students have shared their thoughts with us. I’d like to take this opportunity to provide a teaser of what we’ve learned so far. Final results, including the results of a scientific random sample survey, will be shared with the public shortly before the start of the coming school year. (more…)

Today, John Wilson of Education Week’s John Wilson Unleashed blog wrote a great piece about Chalkboard’s TeachOregon initiative. “TeachOregon: Growing Great Teachers” can be found here in its entirety. 

“No one questions that the next generation of teachers will play different roles, will have some of the most high tech tools to support their teaching, will teach the most diverse group of American children, and will need a great deal of professional support to assure a high quality of teaching. But that next generation is being stifled in its growth by politicians who want less preparation, less dedication to teaching as a career, and less investment in teacher quality. Bridging that divide has required bold leaders to step up and show what can and must be done to support teacher development in the 21st century. You can find that leadership in Oregon.

Oregon has been blessed to have an independent education 501(c)3 called the Chalkboard Project, an entity devoted to making Oregon’s public schools the best in the nation. It would be great if every state had a similar advocate with no agenda other than the creation of great public schools. The Chalkboard Project offers high quality research and partners with educators and experts to pilot innovative reforms. It also provides citizens, educators, and policy-makers with legitimate, transparent, and honest information. In addition, this group respects teachers and their unions. It understands that reform is done with teachers and not to teachers, and it acts on that understanding.”

Read more.