Governor Kulongoski and Superintendent Castillo release blueprint for K-12 education reform
Oregon is applying for $200 million through the federal Race to the Top competition
(Gladstone) — Today Governor Ted Kulongoski and Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo were joined by education leaders from communities across the state to release Oregon’s application for $200 million of the competitive federal Race to the Top grant. Race to the Top is a $4 billion program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act targeted to support education reform and innovation in the states.
“Today’s application is an opportunity for Oregon to build on our successes as well as take the next steps forward toward meaningful and lasting education reform,” said Governor Kulongoski. “I am grateful that Oregon finally has a federal partner to help advance real reform in our schools and that this application has the support of a diverse group of stakeholders from teachers to business leaders representing every corner of the state.”
Oregon’s grant application builds on a number of innovative initiatives that are already underway across the state and outlines the best next steps in reform. Specifically the application provides a blueprint for: turning around our lowest performing schools, supporting effective teachers and principals, increasing standards, and expanding the use of data to improve classroom instruction.
“Schools across Oregon have been pioneering several exciting initiatives that are helping raise student achievement and prepare our children for success in the 21st Century,” said Castillo. “I am very pleased with the all the hard work by hundreds of educators, administrators, experts and stakeholders that has gone into this application, which offers an excellent blueprint for how we will expand and build on those initiatives to reform Oregon’s education system.”
In preparing Oregon’s Race to the Top application, the design team and work groups drew on the expertise of nearly 200 education experts across the state. Building on this collaborative development, Oregon’s application includes Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with 112 school districts and nearly 40 local teachers unions. Districts agreeing in their MOU to implement most of Oregon’s Race to the Top plan include 77 percent of all Oregon students and 75 percent of Oregon students living in poverty.
Oregon’s application calls for reform in the four key areas of reform:
- Turning around the state’s lowest performing schools
- Identifying the lowest 5% of schools and then producing and implementing intervention plans to improve performance.
- Recruiting and retaining effective teachers and principals
- Connecting student achievement data to individual teachers’ records to improve instruction; expanding professional evaluation and development; and accelerating the training and placement of qualified teachers.
- Using benchmarked standards and assessments to prepare students for success
- Connecting Oregon to the standards being developed nationally; aligning Oregon standards to international benchmarks; providing professional development to align curriculum to new standards; and scaling up proficiency-based practices across the state.
- Using data to improve instruction and practices
- Creating a statewide, web-based portal to allow teachers, principals, parents and policymakers a convenient way to access data.
In addition to the reforms, the application also calls for the creation of the Education Coordinating Council to oversee these reforms and report directly to the Governor. The new council would be responsible for the accountability of the allocation of the grant funds as well as ensuring that the state has an effective implementation strategy for these reforms.
The first round of competitive grant awards for the Race to the Top program will be made in April and states that are not selected in the first round will be eligible to reapply for the grant in June. Only a handful of states are expected to be awarded funding in the first round.
To view a summary of the Race to the Top grant application, click here.
Anna Richter Taylor, 503-378-6169
Courtney Warner Crowell, 503-378-3554
Jake Weigler, (ODE), 503-947-5650