Posts Tagged ‘
Oregon Education ’
Clare McCann is a program associate at the New America Foundation’s Education Policy Program in Washington, D.C. and co-author of a recent policy paper, Promoting Data in the Classroom: Innovative State Models and Missed Opportunities.
Data-driven instruction is the holy grail of education. But that buzzword—“data-driven instruction”—doesn’t tell us much about what it is supposed to look like. In the ideal, it looks like a school in which every teacher knows what every child is learning, exactly where every student is falling behind, and the best way to bring each student up to speed. And it’s already starting to happen with the Oregon DATA Project.
Earlier this month, I co-authored a paper that looks at the promise of professional development programs that help teachers master the kinds of skills they need to implement data-driven instruction in their classrooms. We highlighted the Oregon DATA Project as a prime example of the good work happening in this field right now. (more…)
Today the Chalkboard Project published a report that provides a snapshot of Oregon’s education system and highlights school districts that are making progress. Take a look.
Schools are letting out for the summer, but the Chalkboard Project’s new report is clear: there is work to be done. The report outlines the current situation: Oregon’s graduation rate and its performance on national assessments have improved little since 2003; Oregon’s classrooms are becoming more diverse than ever; in the next seven years a full third of the teacher workforce will be new; and other states have made quicker progress, leaving Oregon in the bottom third.
Read the report, “Better Schools, Better Oregon: The Conditions of K-12 Education.”
See highlights from the report.
The other day I was explaining the concept of an investment to one of my relatives who you might say is on a fixed income (a weekly allowance). She wanted to buy a better camera so we talked about ways she might have to limit weekly purchases from her allowance in order to invest in an additional purchase. But even though she’s researched a possible career someday in photojournalism and written about famous photographers like Randy Olson, Annie Leibovitz, and David Bacon, her immediate needs (pizza with friends, gas money, etc.) kept being paramount in her decisions about how to invest another week’s allowance.
That’s when I realized why some citizens in Oregon are struggling to see merit in the Governor’s Strategic Investments for Education. The idea of spending money now to create wealth in the future poses a real dilemma if we only focus on the daily demands on an already very stretched allowance for Oregon’s teachers, schools, classrooms, and students. (more…)
I’m worried that the recession will never end for children in our Oregon public schools. The crisis will be declared over and the general public will have adjusted to larger class sizes and fewer programs. We’ll continue with classes near the largest in the country and wonder why our children still aren’t outperforming kids in countries that invest more in education.
Two years ago I had a class of 23 fourth graders. Even with that number of students I felt that if I had fewer students I could have personalized instruction more and seen better growth. After all, many private schools have 15-20 kids per classroom. Last year, with a 22% reduction in my district’s teaching staff, I had 38 students. This year I have 32. When I took my class on a field trip this year, the district bus driver noted how nice and small my class was. Yes, 32 students is now considered to be a small class.
With the instructional expectations of today, there can no longer be a debate about the value of fewer kids per teacher. Many of the best practices that train kids for a high tech world are not possible with many students. Individual writers’ conferences are recommended for teaching writing; small group skill-based instruction leads to success; making special connections with students is important. We need to listen to kids talk through their thinking and coax them to think at a higher level. We need to give kids time to discover and express themselves as they create their own meaning. All of this takes time and attention. (more…)
Steve Nelson is co-director of the Oregon Schools to Watch Program. Mr. Nelson is also the principal of Leslie Middle School in Salem, Oregon and the President of the Oregon Middle Level Association. He has worked in the field of education for 26 years as a teacher, assistant principal and principal in the Dayton School District, Salem-Keizer School District and at the American School in Puebla, Mexico.
The Oregon Middle Level Association is excited to announce that Oregon is now an official “Schools to Watch” state. The Schools to Watch (STW) initiative, sponsored by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform, is an effort to ensure that young adolescents are prepared to be lifelong learners ready for college, career and citizenship. The STW initiative accomplishes its goal by identifying high-performing middle-grades schools that are on a solid upward trajectory in regard to academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity and organizational effectiveness. Over the last ten years hundreds of middle-grades schools throughout the country have been designated as “Schools to Watch” because of their commitment to these STW core beliefs. (more…)
Rachel Fortgang is a former student of Shawn’s, and a current student teacher.
Harvard University professor Jal Mehta recently penned an editorial for the New York Times in which he argues, essentially, “American education is a failed profession.” His contention rests on the falsity of most reform propositions, that whether we are asked to take sides in the Michelle Rhee vs. Diane Ravitch debate, or whether we follow Waiting for Superman into a charter vs. public contest, we are operating in a place that will not lead to long-term, effective solutions. Interestingly, Mehta reasons that the major solution rests in the professionalization of the teaching profession, something that has been promulgated in books like Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan’s Professional Capital but has remained an elusive position for teacher leadership and reform advocates alike.
Rachel, who is finishing up her student teaching, has noticed the relatively strange position of teachers since she decided to join their ranks. Both highly educated and a veteran of programs like the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York, Rachel is one of those that the profession should be trying to attract. Yet, her initial foray has introduced a distinct conundrum. She notes:
“It’s been strange telling my friends, most of whom at this point are finishing up law school, med school, or writing for prestigious news outlets, that I am going to be a teacher. There is, I think, an unspoken disappointment that this is what I ‘have come to,’ that if I cannot be a famous writer, I will resort to standing in front of a classroom intoning the difference between a metaphor and a simile for a group of adolescents who may not care less, year after year, for the rest of my life. What I’ve been coming up against, as I just dip my toe into this profession, is the largely unspoken reality about American society’s perception of the amount of skill, or to put it more bluntly, the intelligence, that is required to be an effective teacher.”
Part of Rachel’s issue is the fact that the teaching profession occupies a strange zone within the range of professions. In Shawn’s Issues and Ethics in Education class, he often muses about “what collar” a teacher wears. Rooms are often divided between those who argue blue and those who argue white, although the final denouement usually finds the class realizing that it is neither. The teaching profession straddles a line between these two worlds, and as long as it does so, it will perpetually face the labor strife that accompanies working class positions while seeking the protections normally associated with other career fields. Mehta suggests that teachers have to work harder to have teaching be seen as a “profession on par with fields like law and medicine.” (more…)
We all know that to best serve Oregon’s kids, we must create an integrated education system from birth through early adulthood. We also know that one of the strongest predictors of children’s school success is parent and family engagement. While most of us have known this intuitively for a long time, it is now clear that how we engage parents, families, and other caring adults is absolutely essential. As an example, I am heartened to see the Oregon Education Investment Board lists parent and family engagement as one of its top five priorities for education in Oregon.
Early childhood practitioners get this. They do a remarkable job of engaging and involving parents in every aspect of their work—from home visits and encouraging reading with children at home, to decision-making in the school and classroom and providing basic supports and tools. They build this into their practice because it works, and because the children are much more likely to succeed. (more…)
Tyler Nice has been teaching for over ten years in the Springfield School District. He started his career at Hamlin Middle School. Tyler is currently teaching economics, government and history in the Social Studies department at Thurston High School.
“I know that we haven’t always agreed on every issue thus far, and there are surely times in the future when we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here this evening loves this country, and wants it to succeed. That must be the starting point of every debate we have in the coming months, and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.”
- Barack Obama, State of the Union Address, Tuesday, February 4, 2009
I remember watching the State of the Union address in the late winter of 2009. A paragraph toward the tail end of the speech caught my attention. The message was poignant and powerful. I have thoughts of the sentiment often in the years since. The message is that we have competing visions for success. We can focus on the competing methods, or we can focus on the ultimate goal: a safe and prospering nation for all. (more…)
The spring of 1978 proved to be a pivotal time shaping my career. These were the ten weeks I completed my student teaching at a small rural high school in Colton, Washington.
Fortunately, I was taught and mentored by a marvelous master language arts teacher, Diana Carlson. Our first meeting was memorable. “Mr. Jamison, I have good news for you. In the coming weeks you will become the Language Arts Department at Colton High School.”
With thirty-five years of distance and perspective since that spring, and wonderful experiences along the way, I am deeply grateful for the high expectations and rigorous regime framed by this fine educator. Diana required me to teach four different grade levels of high school English, business communication, a social studies class, and to assist in directing the high school play after hours. Working fifty to sixty hours a week, I planned, created, delivered, evaluated…breathed, ate, laughed, fretted and lived… with these students and classrooms consuming my life.
We all know the importance of strong induction and mentorship supports for our newest professionals. While I benefitted the following year from an equally strong teacher who mentored me in my first full-time teaching job in Independence, lately I have looked back on that experience in Colton for an entirely different reason. Increasingly, I am concerned we are not adequately serving and supporting Oregon’s rural schools. (more…)
Tim Nesbitt writes on public affairs, has served as an adviser to Govs. Ted Kulongoski and John Kitzhaber, and is past president of the Oregon AFL-CIO. He writes an opinion column for The Oregonian on alternate Tuesdays. This column was originally posted to OregonLive.com on April 30, 2013 and can be found in its entirety here.
A few hours after Oregon House Democrats failed to pass a tax increase for high-income individuals and corporations last week, I mentioned to a staffer for one of their members that an alternative revenue package might now be in order. But when I suggested shaving personal income tax deductions by 5 percent as a better way to meet their revenue goal, the staffer surprised me by saying, “not 5 percent of my deductions.” And, having listened to the Democrats’ pleas for more revenue to save our schools, my response was just as emphatic: “Then it’s not worth it to you to pay more for schools — that’s the problem!”
This is the issue that we have yet to resolve at the state level. As I wrote in my last column, the message implicit in the House Democrats’ revenue package was that some services, such as schools, are so important that someone else should pay for them. Perhaps I oversimplified. The Democrats’ argument is that when it comes to getting back what we’ve lost — teachers, school days or shop classes — we should turn to those who used to pay more and are now paying less to support schools and services (insert your least favorite corporations here) and those who have benefited most from our economy (variously defined as the top 1 to 3 percent of income earners). That approach is arguably fair but decidedly limited if we want to secure the funding we need for our education system.