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Vision 2.0 for Public Education in Oregon

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Last fall, the 25 superintendents of COSA’s Vision and Policy Coalition partnered with the Superintendents’ National Dialogue to invite 50 state leaders from the business, government, education and non-profit sectors to attend the Oregon Summit on the Future of Learning. Participants engaged in a daylong review and discussion of KnowledgeWorks’ forecast Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem, which predicts disruptions that will shape learning over the next decade. The Summit provided an invigorating launch for what we are calling our “Vision 2.0.” 

By the end of the Summit, we had identified four areas of emphasis for Vision 2.0, and a number of partners had signed on to participate in one of the resulting work groups. Since then, we have made significant progress in developing our vision, as well as policy recommendations, in each area of emphasis:

  • Re-imagining Grades 9-14. A 30-member work group, led by superintendents Shelley Berman of Eugene and Candy Armstrong of North Wasco, has developed a policy paper and presented preliminary findings and recommendations to an OEIB subcommittee and the legislatively-established Accelerated Learning Committee. We are calling for a system that supports not only a seamless, but a blurred, transition from high school to college; full schedules for students in grades 11-12; fully-developed CTE pathways; and more. All of our recommendations support Oregon’s “40-40-20” goal, which states that by 2025, all adult Oregonians will hold at least a high school diploma or equivalent, with 40 percent holding an associate’s degree or meaningful postsecondary certificate/credential, and 40 percent holding a bachelor’s or advanced degree.
  • Full-day Kindergarten and Early Learning. A 25-member work group, led by superintendents Maryalice Russell of McMinnville and Jon Peterson of Pendleton, has developed a policy paper and presented preliminary findings and recommendations to an OEIB subcommittee, and is scheduled to present to the Oregon Early Learning Council later this spring. We are recommending that all school districts offer full-day kindergarten beginning in 2015-16, which is the first year the legislature has agreed to provide more than half-day funding for kindergarten. We are also calling on the legislature to allocate sufficient funding to support implementation of statewide full-day kindergarten, so that educating 5-year-olds for a full day doesn’t take resources away from students in the other 12 grades. Further, we are working with early learning system leaders to develop a more coordinated and aligned age-3-through-grade-3 system, and looking ahead to partnerships on future programs for 4-year-olds.
  • E-Learning and Technology. A 30-member work group, led by superintendents Rob Hess of Lebanon and Boyd Keyser of North Marion and John Steach of Canby, is developing a strategic plan, “Powering Up: Transforming Learning in Oregon Schools.” The plan includes recommendations for achieving universal access, developing and sharing digital content, improving educator preparation and training, and growing partnerships with business, parents and others. This work group, which includes partners from Intel and Apple, is scheduled to present its plan to an OEIB subcommittee later this spring.
  • Equity. At our meeting last fall, we were disappointed at our lack of success in attracting participants from organizations representing Oregon’s communities of color. So, in partnership with OEIB and the Northwest Health Foundation, last month we held the first in a series of summit meetings, “Writing a New Narrative for Oregon’s 3rd Graders.” This summit attracted a diverse and powerful group of more than 50 leaders representing statewide and local culturally-specific communities, school districts and state agencies. Our goal is to develop stronger relationships, with a shared commitment to taking action that leads to successful outcomes for all students, and with a specific focus on students of color and English language learners. We are scheduled to convene again in June.

The Summit was essential to the creation of our “Vision 2.0” and our work groups. Thanks to Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) for hosting the event and to Katherine Prince, Senior Director of Strategic Foresight at KnowledgeWorks for facilitating. We also appreciate the support provided by NWEA President and CEO Matt Chapman, SND Executive Director Joe Scherer, and KnowledgeWorks President and CEO Judy Peppler.

Over the next several months, our work groups will continue to move forward, and we will continue to work with partners – community colleges and universities, early learning agencies and providers, businesses, non-profits, state agencies, organizations representing our communities of color, and more – to improve our vision and recommendations. Throughout that time, we will be looking for avenues to advance our recommendations, with an eye toward Oregon’s 2015 legislative session.

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