How Do We Open Doors for English Learners?
Join a free, interactive webinar on December 12th with PSU Graduate School of Education faculty member Julie Esparza-Brown on this topic.
How Do We Open Doors for English Learners?
Join a free, interactive webinar on December 12th with PSU Graduate School of Education faculty member Julie Esparza-Brown on this topic.
GRADUATION RATE DATA
According to new, preliminary data available here, many states improved their four-year high school graduation rates in the 2011-12 school year. The data shows that 16 states reported graduation rates at or above 85%, versus just nine states who reported the same graduation rates in 2010-11. This is the second year for which all states used a common, rigorous measure to indicate how many students received diplomas. Building off this new data, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) will release a report in early 2014 regarding on-time graduation rates for school years 2010-11 and 2011-12. On-time graduation rate indicators provide a measure of the percentage of students that complete high school in four years with a regular high school diploma.
The interactive map of the US allows a quick look at how Oregon compares to other states, as well as, providing links to additional data sets. Oregon’s graduation rate of 68% places it in the bottom quintile of states in the US. A critical initial factor impacting whether the state’s goal of reaching 40% of graduates with a bachelor’s degree, 40% of graduates with an associate’s degree or certificate, and 20% graduating with a rigorous high school diploma (40-40-20 goal) is to significantly improve the on-time high school graduation rate. Doing so will require significant investment that begins to restore both the breadth of curriculum offerings that engage a broader range of student interests, as well as, creating conditions within high schools that directly contribute to student engagement and success. This would include restoring investment in student advising and counseling, academic support and intervention programs; reduction in the very large class sizes currently seen in Oregon high schools; restoration of Career and Technical Education programs including expanded partnerships with Community Colleges; and an intense focus at the individual student level on successful transition from the 8th grade into high school.
There are clear measures in place already in these areas and the Oregon Education Investment Board has, appropriately, called for better alignment across institutions and more careful monitoring of student success using longitudinal data. This problem cannot be fixed by focus on a single grade level. In other words, high school graduation rates are not solely the responsibility of high schools. Thinking of these data as "system indicators" and not just "school indicators" opens the conversation to how each element of the PK-20 system is connected to the next element. Each element is connected to what came before and influences the success of what happens at the next level. Having good metrics in place is only a prerequisite step to the more important work of establishing system alignment across all grades, restoration of support and intervention services, and creating conditions for success at the school and classroom level. There is a danger in spending too much time weighing the baby and not enough time feeding the baby.
Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan responded to the release of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results this week. The blog post link below also contains a short video presenting information on US results.
During a digital event with a live video feed, Secretary Duncan and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Secretary-General Angel Gurria announced the results of the latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and discussed the implications for U.S. education policy. PISA is a test of reading, mathematics, and science literacy, given every three years to 15-year-olds around the world. In 2012, 65 education systems — including the 34 member countries of the OECD — participated in PISA.
Among the key findings:
· While other nations moved ahead, there was no measurable change in U.S. average scores in reading, mathematics, or science literacy between 2012 and any of the previous U.S. results.
· The U.S. remained below the OECD average score in mathematics literacy and was not measurably different from the OECD average scores in reading and science literacy.
· In mathematics literacy, the U.S. had a higher percentage of low-performing students and a lower percentage of high-performing students, on average, than the OECD countries.
“While we are seeing some encouraging progress on many important measures, the United States’ performance on the 2012 PISA is a picture of educational stagnation,” the Secretary said in a statement. “This is a reality at odds with our aspiration to have the best-educated, most competitive workforce in the world. We must invest in early education, raise academic standards, make college affordable, and do more to recruit and retain top-notch educators. By taking those vital steps, we will ensure all of America’s children have access to a high-quality education that prepares them for college and careers.”
(Note: A recent blog post captures the PISA Day events and includes a video and a link to the Secretary’s prepared remarks.)
When the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) released its most recent data yesterday, a flood of commentaries has, predictably, followed. Getting a simple understanding of what the results were can be hard. This link will help. It will take you to an interactive chart created by Education Week that displays the rank order of the scale scores for each country for both the current release and for 2009. Drop-down fields let you switch between years and subjects. It also provides a color coded range of average, statistically above average and statistically below average. It is easy to use and lets you quickly see the spread among the 42 countries being compared.
In both 2009 and in 2012 the results from the United States place American students squarely in the middle of the countries participating. There has been little movement in US scores over the past two years.
Here is the link to the chart:
Here is a link to Education Week’s analysis of the data:
When the Soviet Union launched Sputkik, the first successful satellite to orbit the earth, on October 4, 1957, it marked the beginning of an ongoing question of how American students and the educational system in the U.S. compares to systems in other countries. The resulting National Defense Education Act was one of the first major investments in public education by the federal government, and it was primarily driven by a perceived low level of American performance vis-a-vis other countries. Likewise, the publication in April, 1983, of A Nation At Risk by the National Commission on Excellence in Education sparked a national focus on increasing standards and student performance relative to other countries that continues to today. Indeed, the roots of the Common Core State Standards can be found in the demand for higher standards and clearer evidence of performance that was at the core of A Nation At Risk. One of the key driving forces in national educational policy has been the question of how well do American students do in comparison to other countries.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) manages the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) which provides international comparisons of student performance on the same instruments resulting in one of the few ongoing measures of comparable student academic performance across multiple countries. These results are generally viewed as one of the key indicators of the level of student achievement in international comparisons. There are significant differences across international boundaries that impact these results, including the diversity of the student population, the commitment of the country to educate all students, the nature of the curriculum, and so on. These results have led to examinations of the success of specific countries and regions, e.g., the growth of "Singapore Math" and the general success of schools in Finland.
The latest PISA results will be released tomorrow, December 3, 2013. You can watch the formal release of the data and an in-depth discussion of the results on a livestream. Register at PISADay.org. You can also follow the release of these data on Twitter at #OECDPISA. More information appears below.
PISA Day 2013:
Learning Beyond the Rankings
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (CT)
The livestream event will include:
Visit PISADay.org to register for this livestream event.
Follow the action on Twitter using #OECDPISA.
Hosted by the following organizations:
The US Department of Education
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Achieve | ACT | Alliance for Excellent Education | America Achieves | Asia Society | Business Roundtable | College Board | Council of Chief State School Officers | National Board for Professional Teaching Standards National Center on Education and the Economy
The Oregon State Board of Education released an extensive Notice of Administrative Rules last week covering new grants and new regulations approved by the 2013 Legislative Session. Topics covered are:
These proposed rules are open for public comment. Written or electronic testimony is accepted until November 30, 2013 @ 5:00 pm. Comments can be emailed to:
or mailed to:
Government and Legal Affairs Manager
Oregon Department of Education
255 Capitol St. NE
Salem, OR 97310
You can view drafts of the proposed rules at:
The full Notice of Administrative Rule Making is attached.
Wednesday afternoon, October 2nd, produced a remarkable event in Oregon political and policy history. Members of the Oregon House and Senate partnered with the Governor to engage in what the political process often aspires to, but has recently seldom achieved; two sides debating issues and reaching a compromise that moves the state forward. No one got everything they wanted from the Special Session, and everyone gave up something in the process.
As a result:
To reach these benefits:
You can read more at:
Within an hour after the close of the Special Session, the Governor and other legislative leaders turned to “what happens next?” As readers of this space know, the Governor has frequently mentioned the “Three Session Strategy” that started with governance changes in 2011, has now achieved significant financial stabilization in 2013, and will focus on tax reform moving into 2015. Read more at:
Even though the fiscal improvements that have been achieved in the 2013 Regular Session and in the Special Session are substantial , they have not addressed the core fiscal problem in Oregon which is the inherent instability in state funding streams. This has been the central issue in state funding since passage of Ballot Measure 5 in 1990. By capping local property taxes at 1.5%, shifting payment for critical services, such as, schools, health care, higher education, social services, etc., to the state income tax, and capping growth of assessed property value at 3%, a structured instability was created. We now have an over-dependence on the state income tax coupled with severe limits on property taxes, and an absence of taxation on consumption, either as a sales tax or other “value added” revenue. Oregon capped property taxes, capped growth of property taxes, and decided to finance services primarily on state income taxes which require high levels of employment to keep pace with needed revenue. The result, for example, in the 2008-09 recession was significant cuts in state services, especially in education, leading to staff layoffs and furloughs, shorten school years, closures, higher tuition rates, etc. As the economy of the state has slowly rebounded from the recession, we have seen a modest increase in available state revenue, highlighted by increases in educational funding by the 2013 regular session. This is only possible in Oregon when people are working, and, therefore, paying income tax. In any significant recession or economic downturn resulting in higher unemployment. the state revenue stream dries up. The absence of taxation on consumption means that there is no offsetting balance to potential loss of revenue from the income tax. This“revenue roller coaster” has taken a severe toll on Oregon education, social services, and local and state government in general. The Governor and legislative leadership are correct to call this issue out as the next major issue that needs correcting.
WHAT ARE THE HURDLES?
No one should underestimate the difficulty in addressing tax reform in Oregon. The Governor’s “Three Session Strategy” is a clear indication of his understanding of the complex political and fiscal realities in Oregon that need to be taken into consideration. He knows it needs to be fixed, as do legislative leaders, such as, Sen. Ginny Burdick, (D-Portland), who chairs the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee, Rep. Vickie Berger, (R-Salem), who chairs the House Revenue Committee, and Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton) and Rep. Tobias Read (D-Beaverton) who have actively campaigned for changes in the Oregon tax structure. There may be no better time since 1990 than now to build consensus going into the 2015 Regular Session for addressing this problem.
However, there are many potential hurdles to get over between now and then. Here a just a few:
1. Will Governor Kitzhaber seek reelection? There is a general election to get through prior to the 2015 legislative session. Governor Kitzhaber has not confirmed that he will run for a fourth term. Announced opposition so far has come from Representative Dennis Richardson and businessman Jon Justesen. Given the successes the Governor has achieved in 2011 and in 2013, he will be very difficult to beat on the issues and many have referred to the November, 2014, election as his to lose. To say this more positively, he will be a very strong candidate if he decides to run, but he has not, as yet, made that announcement. His victory in the Special Session this week may provide the energy to move him into a position to want to complete the three session strategy.
2. PERS Court Challenge. The changes made to PERS in the 2013 Regular Session and the Special Session were not universally applauded, to say the least. Passionate testimony during both of the recent sessions indicated that significant opposition to these changes exists from public employee organizations, and a court challenge is likely. The core issue is whether the existing PERS agreements with current and retired PERS-eligible employees represent a contractual agreement and whether the legislature has the legal authority to change that agreement. If the Oregon Supreme Court were to overturn these recent changes, a huge financial hole opens in the state budget.
3. Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The Governor and the state of Oregon have gained significant national attention in both health care reform and in the educational governance changes approved in 2011. The education changes came at an opportune time when the scheduled reauthorization by the U.S. Congress of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (aka No Child Left Behind) had hit a brick wall and has remained stalled since 2008. In response to the lack of movement, President Obama and Secretary of Education Duncan created a waiver process for states looking to modify and improve their state education operations in areas covered by the federal law. For example, when the Governor’s new Oregon Education Investment Board approved an alteration of school accountability measures to utilize new “Achievement Compacts” that looked at district-identified growth targets and focused on factors other than state test scores, many saw this as the development of a more rational and appropriate approach to school accountability. The U.S. House has already approved its version of the reauthorization of ESEA and the Senate was working on its version until the most recent fiscal and political crisis led to the shut down of the federal government. When Congress finally gets back to work on this, an important question will be how the final version of ESEA reauthorization impacts the changes being made in Oregon.
4. Results. The 2013 Regular Session appropriated $6.55 Billion for schools in Oregon and the Special Session has now added an additional $100 million. This is an increase of over $1.1 billion over the previous appropriation. It does not restore everything that was lost in Oregon since 1990, but it does represent the first significant increase in a long time. It includes “strategic investments” in such areas as teacher preparation and professional development, early childhood education and regional improvement planning initiatives. The 2015 regular session will be much more open to additional effort to support both PK-12 and higher education if the 2011 governance and structural changes and the 2013 financial enhancements lead to clear system improvements. School districts, community colleges and universities will need to be specific in both the use of the additional revenue and the impact of those funds. Did more students access higher education through tuition assistance? Were class sizes reduced and by how much? How many days of instruction were restored? Did we make progress on reducing the drop out rate and improving graduation and entry into post secondary education. Are we making reasonable progress on the 40-40-20 goals? Have we prepared more students to enter work and technical careers that provide direct benefit to Oregon? Are we making progress in reducing the achievement gap and addressing issues of equity and diversity? The single most important thing that could benefit continuing the reforms that are underway is demonstrating that the modified governance structure and improved funding have produced solid results that put Oregon education back on track for national prominence. The next regular session opens in January, 2015, and a strong case will need to be made that continuing reforms and possible tax revisions will support a system that is moving in the right direction.
Patrick Burk, Ph.D.
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy
Portland State University Graduate School of Education