Archive for the ‘ Chalkboard Project ’ Category

Erin Prince2
Dr. Erin Prince became superintendent of the Corvallis School District in 2011. She arrived in Corvallis from the Sherwood School District where she had served as the assistant superintendent since 2006. Prior to that, she worked as an administrator in the Greater Albany and Lake Oswego school districts and as an elementary school teacher in the Oregon City, Hillsboro, and Tigard-Tualatin school districts.

 Erin shared her perspective on the effects of CLASS and the emergence of educational leadership across Oregon in Leading For Learning.


Back in 2007, I was an assistant superintendent in Sherwood, one of the very first districts involved with Chalkboard’s CLASS initiative. Today, I serve as superintendent in Corvallis, a district that started its CLASS journey in 2012.

CLASS’s most transformative impact is the change within that district’s culture, yet this change is difficult to explain or capture on a spreadsheet. Specifically, I am referring to changing the collective mindset toward teaching and learning, and prioritizing certain strategies because they positively impact student achievement.

ErinprincePllQteLet me share an example. Recently in Corvallis I met with a group of principals. During an in-depth discussion about educational equity, we touched on response to intervention (RTI)—a system for supporting struggling students. While aligning our RTI process two years ago, we experienced challenges with supporting the middle and high school grades. In response, we used CLASS monies to create teacher-leader positions in the middle and high schools to support RTI.

Today, our high school freshman failure growth has been cut in half. And in this recent discussion among principals, there was no question we were going to do whatever we needed to keep those RTI positions in next year’s general budget.

That discussion would have been quite different if it happened a few years ago.

While anyone can see the influence an excellent teacher-leader has on a classroom, it may be difficult for someone to realize the impact of a district-level superintendent. Today there are Oregon superintendents redefining their roles, and tapping into their leadership potential as well—Leading for Learning is the next larger step by Chalkboard to improve classroom outcomes.

Leading for Learning’s intensified training is for district staff seeking stronger and more effective supervisory/assessment skills, and supporting principals to become instructional leaders, among other objectives.

We know that outcomes do improve through excellent teachers, and the capacity grows as principals are provided improved supervisory feedback and supports by district superintendents with strategic focus and greater capacity to steer Oregon’s education system toward student achievement.

Despite these uplifting opportunities, my team sometimes expresses their impatience with the slow pace of change. My advice to them: step back and consider how far we have come in such a short time, and how much these changes in the district’s evolving culture have meant to the teaching profession, and to our students. More Oregon schools are creating a thriving culture of educational leadership via CLASS and Leading for Learning. I look forward to seeing the results of these programs, and broadening the discussion across other school districts in the coming years.

NOTE: You can hear more perspectives about the work of Leading for Learning here in this short video clip.

JulieBev PIC2Co-authors and Chalkboard staffers Julie Smith, director of educator effectiveness, and Bev Pratt, TIF grant manager, present their third and final blog post in their series on teacher compensation. 

Over the summer, we have shared innovative models of teacher compensation and examples where states and school districts have made that a reality.

BevJulieTComp-FinalWe believe Oregon’s teachers and administrators are ready to explore the new frontier of alternative compensation. Just last month, the Teachers Standards and Practice Commission (TSPC) adopted a temporary rule suspending the requirement for teachers to earn additional college credits to renew their teaching license. Continuing professional development units (25 units/year) are now the only requirement to renew one’s teaching license, allowing districts and teachers to better advocate for improved salary schedules and reforms.

Research has shown teacher effectiveness is the most important in-school factor for increasing student achievement—not advanced degrees or years of experience. In fact, most specialized careers allow licensed professionals to renew their initial license through continued professional development, not through college credits.

Both Baltimore, Maryland, and Portland, Maine, public schools have embraced the progressive practice of affording teachers opportunities for improving skills in order to meet their profession’s changing demands, and create compensations that reinforce successful growth.

“In the 1990s, changes in education have led to increased skill requirements for teachers. Public demands for high standards and accountability, demands for employee involvement to facilitate improved organizational performance, and an increasingly diverse student population require teachers to develop and maintain high levels of professional instructional skills, as well as management and leadership roles within schools. Provide incentives for long term career development of employees, linked to the knowledge and skills needed for today’s schools.” (CPRE, History of Teacher Pay)

Teachers need greater control over their advancement and professional growth opportunities. We believe Oregon should reward effective teachers who are making a difference—not compel them to pay for their own pay raise by taking college credits. Many districts are currently supporting teachers with job-embedded professional learning experiences, enabling peer-to-peer professional development. Teachers in these districts are working in collaborative teams, designing new curriculum, participating in collaborative learning teams, and other innovations.

It is time for these effective practices to be replicated in Oregon schools as an integral part of new teacher compensation models. The question is, who will lead this effort? Who will move these ideas from isolated practice into Oregon’s new reality?

If you could witness the first day of school at Salem’s César Chavez School, then you would see our teacher candidates (known elsewhere as “student teachers”) already in the classroom working alongside trained clinical teachers.

Being a teacher candidate at César Chavez is not a passive role. They assist students, plan lessons, and teach. And by the time this experience is completed, they are ready to take charge of their own classroom. This is our model of teacher preparation today.

CobbTeachPrep-July
In the past, student teachers would be assigned to classroom teachers who, typically, did not have any sort of training in mentoring, coaching, or supervision. Therefore, the quality of a practicum experience varied widely from school to school, teacher to teacher. Given this haphazard approach to preparation, is it a surprise many novice teachers struggle in their first year, and research shows nearly 50 percent of new teachers quit within five years?

Thanks to Chalkboard’s TeachOregon initiative, Salem-Keizer has collaborated with Corban and Western Oregon universities. Through this partnership, we have been able to prepare “clinical” teachers to work with teacher candidates. For the last three years, we hired teachers with this plan in mind, and now Cesar Chavez has 25 clinical teachers. We wanted our school to be a lab, a place that believes in teaching and learning at every level.

Recent César Chavez teacher candidate Carolyn Cava described her experience. “From the beginning, I felt I was treated like a teacher, not just a student teacher,” Carolyn said. “I was never just sitting back and observing. As I got more and more responsibility, I also got the support to be successful.”

At César Chavez, Carolyn was partnered with two teachers—Nubia Green and Nora Singleton. Very soon, Carolyn was teaching, starting with small reading groups and eventually teaching the entire class. After graduation, Carolyn received a job offer in Salem’s Hallman Elementary, where she teaches third-grade bilingual students.

“I owe so much to Nora and Nubia,” she says. “I learned how to build a classroom community and how to build relationships with my students. You just can’t learn that in a college seminar.”

Our teacher candidates are immersed in the classroom experience. But more than that, these new teachers develop abilities to connect with students and see themselves as a true educator. Through our TeachOregon partnerships, our teacher candidates and clinical teachers have created a model that could eventually improve the education for all Oregon children.

Senator Ted Ferrioli

Senator Ted Ferrioli

Senator Ted Ferrioli is the senior member of the Oregon State Senate and serves as the Senate Republican Caucus Leader. He was first elected in 1996 and is now serving his fifth term of office.

In addition to serving as Chair or Vice Chair on dozens of Legislative Committees during his long tenure in the Oregon State Senate, Ferrioli was elected by his peers to serve as Senate President Pro Tempore. Today, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and serves on the Legislative Administration Committee. In 2013 was appointed to the Capitol Foundation Board of Directors.

Senator Ferrioli represents Senate District 30, Oregon’s largest, encompassing Baker, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Malheur, Wheeler, and portions of Clackamas, Deschutes, Lake, Marion and Wasco counties. He lives in the town of John Day with his wife Mary and spends all his spare time on their ranch near Mt. Vernon, Oregon.

See Introductory Post


The retreat from accountability in Oregon’s education system has earned us the lowest achievement rates, the highest drop-out rates and a reputation for some of the worst school ratings in the nation

Taken literally, it’s not the most permissive, most lackadaisical and least rigorous teachers who lift students to their full potential; it’s the toughest, most exacting and most demanding teachers that push students to do more, to prove their worth and to master difficult subjects

Being held accountable by demonstrated mastery of subject matter (i.e. testing) is hard. It’s stressful. There is the threat of the possibility of failure which mirrors the reality students will encounter later in life.

Building academic muscle requires training and testing in a competitive environment, just as in athletics. No one ever suggests we should cancel the league or conference play-offs, so why should we give our education institution a “pass” on academic testing?

I was one of six “no” votes on the issue of suspending statewide testing. I’m proud to join Senator Ginny Burdick, Senator Mark Hass, Senator Betsy Johnson, Senator Rod Monroe and Senator Chuck Thomsen who also voted to oppose a retreat from testing. It was a vote for a return to academic excellence.

Senator Ted Ferrioli

Senate Republican Leader

SD 30-John Day

See Introductory Post

Monroe_photoSenator Rod Monroe was a teacher at Tigard High School and later served on the David Douglas School Board. He was first elected a member of the Oregon legislature in 1976 representing District 12 in Portland, and served two terms. He was elected to the Oregon Senate in 1980, representing District 7, receiving re-election once.

He was elected and served on the council of the governmental agency, Metro, from 1992 to 2004. Later, Senator Monroe was elected to the Oregon Senate in 2006, representing District 24.

Senator Monroe represents House District 24, encompassing east Portland and north Clackamas County.

See Introductory Post


Sen. Rod Monroe – HB 2655, Floor Remarks, June 11, 2015 

Thank you, Mr. President. I hope everybody is paying attention to this issue because it is one of the most important issues that we will vote on this year with respect to public education.

I would just like to ask you ladies and gentlemen, are you happy with our graduation rates? Are you happy that Oregon has among the lowest graduation rates in the country? Are you happy with the fact that our students, when they graduate from our high schools and enter our community colleges, 60 to 70 percent of them need remedial math or language arts? That’s what Smarter Balanced is all about. The current OAKS test, which is purely multiple choice, does not give us the information necessary to do those kinds of remedial programs when they’re juniors and seniors in high school, instead of us having to pay twice for that education when they get to community college. Smarter Balance is not perfect, but it is certainly better than the old OAKS test that’s been antiquated and been around for many, many years.

Now let’s talk about opt out. This is OEA’s six-year opt out bill. That is the correct name for it. Let’s talk about opt out. Currently we have opt out in this state. This bill doesn’t change that. What this bill does is encourages school districts and encourages teachers to suggest to their students that opt out is a good option. That’s what troubles me. So who is using the opt out? Well, in my area, Lincoln and Lake Oswego—a couple of rich schools—are opting out at about the 40 percent rate. Whereas, one of the poorer schools in my district, David Douglas, is doing it right. They are informing the parents of this new Smarter Balance test. The teachers are giving kids information about the test and the opt out rate is very, very small and the success is very high.

When students take this Smarter Balanced test, and if they do reasonably well on it, many universities are considering that as the entrance exam so it saves these young people the need to take the university entrance exams.

Now what happens if less than 95 percent of Oregon’s students take the test? Well you’ve got a memo right there in front of you from the Department of Education, permission to read from a document Mr. President? (Granted)

It says this, “The text of the Oregon bill currently under consideration proactively encouraging parents to opt out of assessments and failing to hold districts and schools accountable if they fall below 95 percent participation increases the likelihood that Oregon will not meet its obligations under the law and will incur enforcement action.” What’s the enforcement action? The enforcement action is that we lose our Title I money. And our Title I money primarily goes to low-income students. So what would happen if a few schools like Lincoln and Lake Oswego all opt out, the rich kids mind you? It would cost money, $140 million, for some of the poorest schools in our state and the kids that really need those federal Title I dollars. Because of the impact, possible fiscal impact and risk of this measure, it ought not to be before us today, it ought to be in Ways and Means. We send everything to Ways and Means if it has a few thousand dollar possible concern. This has $140 million concern. It ought to be in Ways and Means. I ask you ladies and gentlemen, are you willing to take the risk? Are you willing to take the risk of losing that kind of money to help our poor students, because we are playing games with their education?

Look at who is opposed to this bill: Oregon Business Association is opposed to this bill. Stand for Children is opposed to this bill. Chalkboard is opposed to this bill. Both of your co-chairs of the education subcommittee of Ways and Means, Rep. Betty Komp and myself, both lifelong educators, are opposed to this bill.

I got a call a couple of days ago from a teacher who lives in my district, but teaches at Reynolds. She is a constituent and I’ve known her for many years. She is an excellent teacher. She was angry that OEA would not only submit legislation like this, but gag her and other OEA members from speaking out against it. She said, you know I’m paying $100 a month, $1200 a year, to OEA and they are gagging me and they are making a bad decision for the students of our fair state.

We are trying to catch up with the other states that we are behind. This will put us farther behind for the next six years! It’s a horrible bill. Vote no.

See Introductory Post

This week, the U.S. Department of Education confirmed Oregon will receive a three-year reprieve from provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind school accountability law. And while the state says it remains committed to teacher evaluation via standardized testing, the recent passage of Oregon’s “opt out” law may have consequences yet unrealized.

We have written recent editorials in support of maintaining a highly effective assessment system aligned with state education standards. We believe the goal of assessment is to improve how our students learn and to help ensure all students receive the best learning environment possible.

Our work with educators confirms teachers want better support and professional development in assessment literacy, especially to meet the demands of the new state standards. With the Governor’s signing of HB 2655 into law in the final days of this legislative session, we at Chalkboard continue to be concerned about the future of education across Oregon and the possible challenges this decision may create.

Below we express the concerns of two Oregon senators regarding HB 2655.

This blog post, authored by Oregon State Senate Minority Leader Senator Ted Ferrioli (R)

This blog post of floor remarks on the bill by Oregon State Senator Rod Monroe (D)

JulieBev PIC2Co-authors and Chalkboard staffers Julie Smith, educator effectiveness coordinator, and Bev Pratt, TIF grant manager, will be presenting a blog post series this summer on teacher compensation.

This is the first blog post in that series.

Merit pay is defined as paying teachers for increases in student test scores and has been proven time and again not to work for students or teachers, and we at Chalkboard agree. Teachers work hard for their students every day and so to say “We will pay you more, or pay you a bonus if your scores increase” does not suddenly make a teacher more effective. When we dig deeper into claims that merit pay systems work, we find that it is not the merit pay that makes teachers more effective, but it is the system of supports put in place to ensure teachers reach their professional and student goals.

Over the years, alternative compensation systems have evolved to include many different components based on the performance of both teachers and students, as well as on teachers improving their professional practice. For example, last month we visited a Colorado district that had a version of merit—or performance—pay in place that purported to be making a difference for kids. When we probed deeper to understand why the district was seeing improvements in student learning, it turned out the educators had a clear picture of what they needed to do to refine their practices, and had supports in place to help them meet those goals. The district also had a very well defined assessment system, designed with teachers’ input.

Julie0707 Portland, Maine, also designed an alternative compensation system when they moved from an experience-based pay model (first introduced in the early 1900’s) to a professional-learning-based salary system. Instead of teachers having to pay for college credits to advance across a traditional salary schedule, teachers had the option of opting into the new system that recognized educators as lifelong learners who continued to improve and adapt their teaching practice. Again, the redesign of their compensation model led to a focus on providing and valuing meaningful professional learning opportunities for teachers to enhance their craft to ensure they are effective with all kids.

Systems of support can and should exist with or without increases in pay for performance. An effective system regardless of the compensation system makes sure teachers are receiving quality professional learning opportunities focused on instruction, student engagement, understanding standards, and formative assessment. These quality-learning opportunities are embedded and ongoing, and they are collaborative among peers, with opportunities for independent learning. Most importantly, these districts prioritize professional learning by allocating resources, compensation, and time.

Educating kids today is different than it was a generation ago. We cannot assume teachers can adapt to this new environment just because they need too. Teachers and district leaders need to come together to collaboratively design effective professional learning opportunities that support the acquisition of new knowledge, skill development, exploration of beliefs and assumptions, and opportunities to practice. Together, they must refine the application of new learning and evaluate the impact of their learning on all students.

 Stay tuned. The next blog in this series will explore alternative compensation models that support this type of deeper learning!

Rural communities, and especially Oregon’s tribal communities, have many significant challenges to providing enriching childhood educational programs and leadership experiences. A successful program serving the Burns-Paiute Tribe has a mission to “Provide a safe and supportive environment where youth will learn tradition, language and culture”, and help the Burns-Paiute youth embrace a proud self-identity and a positive healthy lifestyle.”

Burns-Paiute blog1“Tuwakii-Nobi (Kid’s House) provides a consistent learning environment. Every day after school, the tutors are there, the computers are there—we have consistency for our children. This is where we engage these kids, and then line them up with leadership and education opportunities,” said Michelle Bradach, Burns-Paiute social services director.

The Burns-Paiute Reservation is located north of Burns in Central Oregon, about 130 miles from Bend, and spans nearly 12,000 acres. There are approximately 380 Burns-Paiute tribal members living in rural Harney County, considered one of the most economically needy areas of Oregon—per capita income is 22.2 percent less than the state average.  Since Chalkboard’s 2014 report on the education status of Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes, the Burns-Paiute tribe has seen marked improvements in math skills, but not in reading. And their school absenteeism rates are some of the highest in the state.

Recognizing the need to improve their children’s academic achievement and wanting a safe and nurturing place for their children after school, the Burns-Paiute people launched Tuwakii-Nobi (Kids’ House) in 2012 with funding from the Oregon Juvenile Justice Department Program (OJJDP).  The program offers meaningful wellness programs, plus tutoring, and tribal language instruction.

Fifteen children attend the afterschool program during the four-day school week, and 25 children attend on Fridays. Their three-week summer session bring even more children into the program. Over the last three years, the community has grown to appreciate the program, and a recent community survey rated Tuwakii-Nobi as the top funding priority—a powerful message just as the OJJDP grant monies were running out.

Searching for new funds has been a daunting task for a tribal administration office with a single person managing social services—Michelle Bradach, tribal services administrator.  Subsequently, finding time to search for funds has been elusive. How can you find funding for a program when you are understaffed, far from large population centers and nonprofit resources, while each day is consumed with completing the task directly in front of you?

To support the Burns-Paiute Tribe, the Spirit Mountain Community Fund helped build a collaborative partnership between the tribe and Chalkboard Project. The primary purpose—to create a multi-faceted, three-year strategic plan to sustain existing services and expand the offerings to build leadership opportunities for young adults, obtain staffing to build financial support, and move the program into a comprehensive Wellness Center.

The strategic plan was based upon input from a steering committee made up of tribal elders, parents, and children, feedback from the tribal prevention and education staff, and after Chalkboard staff visited the community, and held weekly conference calls afterwards for several months. Chalkboard Vice President of Education Policy Frank Caropelo, Michelle, and program director Elise Adams wrote the plan to both capture the tribe’s vision for its community and serve as the backbone for additional funding.

“Before this program, our tribal children would have their tutoring held in different places and offices—there was no stability for them. Tuwakii-Nobi is a safe place for all tribal youth to go, and experience positive things they would not otherwise do,” said Michelle.

While this official partnership is coming to a close, Chalkboard will continue sharing the story of the Burns-Paiute Tribe and about the dedicated people who are working hard to create a prosperous future for their community.

Bev is Chalkboard’s TIF grant manager and helps organize Chalkboard’s annual all-district meeting.

What happens when you bring together educators and school leaders for an all-day event to share innovations and best practices? You get a super-charged environment of learning, collaboration, creativity, and connection.

That’s exactly what happened on May 12, when more than 150 participants—teachers, building and district administrators, and union representatives—attended Chalkboard’s annual all-district meeting in Eugene. The educators, representatives from districts participating in either the Teacher Incentive Fund or School District Collaboration Fund grants, engaged with statewide peers and learned about innovative practices in Colorado and Tennessee.

BevMay26In the name of learning together, three Colorado school districts shared their experience of designing a hybrid model for teacher leadership, redesigning the classroom to better align the curriculum with today’s global society, and rethinking educator compensation system for effectiveness and growth. Denver, Douglas County, and Harrison school districts challenged the participants to envision innovative approaches to transforming teaching and learning.

As one participant noted, “It was nice for our team to see what could be designed and hear from teachers about how their leadership roles support students and fellow teachers, and increase their own effectiveness. Triple win!”

Another winning presentation came from Tennessee’s Lipscomb University. Dean Debra Boyd shared the differences in working conditions based on generational characteristics, particularly as Generation Y’ers enter the education workforce. A timely topic about hiring and retention: one that many were dealing with back in their own districts. “If this information were presented two or three years ago, the audience response would have been much different,” remarked one attendee. “But now that our districts have been working on this for the last five years, this doesn’t feel as threatening as before.”

From presentations, to round tables, to brainstorming sessions, it didn’t take long to feel the power of collaboration: educators stepping outside the box, exploring opportunities, and engaging deeply in meaningful learning experiences.

And as the day came to a close, I came away excited about the energy, connectedness, and sharing that took place among passionate educators, who will go back to their districts, schools, and classrooms, and ignite the passion of learning in the children they serve.

Steve Campbell teaches at Ponderosa Middle School in Klamath Falls. A teacher for more than 22 years in Oregon, he was the local teacher association’s president the last four years, and has been involved with CLASS for the past three years and serves as the compensation committee chairperson.

I will honestly admit that I wasn’t very excited to travel to Colorado in February for the Douglas County School District Innovation Summit and Harrison School District #2 visit. At least I wasn’t attending by myself, but instead attending with an Oregon delegation of TIF and Collaboration grantees, plus Dale Rooklyn, our Chalkboard Coach, and Bev Pratt of Chalkboard Project. But in the end, I enjoyed the presentations and seeing the work they are doing in the areas of assessment, teacher evaluation, and compensation.

COconfpull2COconfpull2COconfpull2 COconfqte2I didn’t agree with everything they did, however. I was disappointed in how their reforms were created without union involvement—there is perhaps 20 percent union membership in Colorado. I’m grateful for Chalkboard’s assistance in helping the teachers association become a prominent part of the CLASS reforms in Klamath Falls. Having union participation adds important checks and balances to the development process, and, in my opinion, the CLASS program has added greatly to the collaborative relationship between the school district and the association.

My biggest takeaway from Colorado is learning how these school districts created their own assessments after deciding the statewide assessments don’t evaluate what they feel are important.

Harrison School District’s teacher evaluation processes were compelling, and I wish I could have had more time to talk to their teachers about how they felt about scoring and evaluations, accomplished without association input. I flipped through a three-ring binder that included forms that teachers submit for review, outlining their achievements in the field such as mentoring, leadership, additional training, student scores, and others. This application is reviewed, scored, and used to evaluate if a teacher or principal deserves pay increases. As well as being a tool to evaluate pay increases, the reverse is also true—a teacher can go down in pay scale if their work performance falls below a prescribed level of expectations for two consecutive years.

Unfortunately, some of the things I really liked can’t really be replicated down here in Klamath Falls. Perhaps at some of Oregon’s largest school districts, but we have a small district of about 4,000 students, and the Douglas County district has 65,000 students, and we just don’t have the staff to do what they do. Harrison School District had 13 people working exclusively on writing assessments for every grade level.

 Back in Colorado, there was a school superintendent who described the boldness of their reforms by saying, “We run with scissors.” They take chances and go for the big things in Denver and as a result, they are at the leading edge by trying new and different things. Here in Klamath Falls, Oregon, our Collaboration grant committees are testing the waters to make meaningful and lasting change happen to improve the profession of teaching, and increase the quality of education for all of our students and the families we serve. And I’ve learned—you can’t judge a conference until you’ve been there.