While Oregon is headed in the wrong direction
with education attainment, there are promising policy and funding changes underway to help correct course. The Legislature has set ambitious goals to increase postsecondary education attainment, and it has authorized sweeping redesign in state governance and budgeting to support great teachnig and learning-and better outcomes.
Progress: Improve the Education and Work Skills of Oregonians
Improved Data Systems. The Legislature authorized $4.8 million to develop the data system needed to automate transfer of student transcripts among K-12 schools and between schools in the K-12 and public postsecondary systems. This supports joint work by K-12, community college, and Oregon University System officials working to improve transcript transfer also made progress on the blueprint to create a more robust student data system integrated across the PreK-20 spectrum. Improved data systems have been a key plank of the Oregon Business Plan education agenda since 2003.
Embracing the 40-40-20 Goal. The Oregon Business Plan goal for education attainment - namely that 40% of Oregonians have at least a Bachelor's degree, 40% at least an associate's or technical degree and 20% at least a rigorous high school diploma - has been widely embraced by Oregon's political and education leaders. The 2007 legislature passed HB 3141 that establishes the 40-40-20 goals in statute, Governor Kulongoski organized his budget around the goals, and many of Oregon's top higher education and K-12 leaders are focused on the goal.
New Diploma with Higher Graduation Bar. In 2007 the Oregon State Board of Education adopted new high school diploma requirements that dramatically increase the rigor and relevancy of the high school experience. Students will now have to gain an additional credit in math, English and science and the math credit must be at least at the Algebra I level. Moreover, students will be required to gain an additional two credits from either a second language, art or career and technical education, and for the first time ever earning a high school diploma will require demonstration of 8 essential skills. Get more information and learn how you can help implement these requirements by visiting www.getreadyoregon.org.
Also, many school districts have raised high school graduation requirements and offer higher level instruction consistent with Oregon’s higher proficiency standards. Oregon became a partner in the American Diploma Project, an effort by Achieve, Inc., business and education leaders, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to raise high school diploma standards to levels that enable graduates to participate in higher education.
Investments in Engineering: The legislature has continued to strengthen its funding for the Engineering and Technology Industry Council as part of its effort to double the number of engineering graduates from Oregon Universities by 2009. Learn more about ETIC and funding levels for engineering-related programs at www.oregonetic.org.
K-12 Assessment: The Legislature recommitted to a statewide assessment for K-12, a computer-based effort that was highly successful and is well on its way to being fully implemented.
Manufacturing Workforce Strategy: The NorthWest High Performance Enterprise Consortium was awarded $499,962 to implement the Oregon Workforce Manufacturing Strategy. Manufacturing 21, the Lane County RV Consortium, the Gateway Consortium in Salem, and other manufacturing coalitions continue to implement and make visible training programs for manufacturing occupations.
Need-Based Aid: In 2005, the Legislature doubled need-based aid for postsecondary students and for the first time included part-time students. In 2007, Oregon again doubled the amount of public dollars available for need-based aid through the Shared Responsibility Model that makes it possible for every student to attend college with a fair balance of contributions from the student, family, part-time work, and public resources. Students can go to the Oregon Student Assistance Commission to calculate the expected public contribution.
OUS Campus Flexibility: SB 437 gave Oregon’s public universities greater flexibility to serve critical needs and manage their affairs. The higher education board reshaped the Chancellor’s Office and delegated even greater authority to the campus level.
Public Engagement: Employers for Education Excellence (E3) and the Chalkboard Project have launched large, complementary efforts to connect with the public on education issues.
Small High Schools: More than a dozen large high schools have committed to convert into small learning communities to improve student performance and close the achievement gap.
Workforce Training: The Employer Workforce Training Account has expanded links with employers to advance workforce preparation, especially to meet the needs of the traded sectors and to fill statewide occupational skill gaps.