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Bennett's Blog: Plan developing to dump CIM and CAM Print E-mail

chuck-bennettby Chuck Bennett, Director of Governmental Relations

CIM and CAM – the acronyms that send some radio talk show hosts into paroxysms of invective describing millions of dollars in government waste – appear to be headed for the dustbin of Oregon education history. Or at least that’s the plan under review at the Oregon Department of Education, State Board of Education and in the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo.

They may sound like the answer to that public radio show “Car Talk” questions involving an engine whine followed by a series of low thuds and your windshield wipers stop working. You can hear “Click” and “Clack” telling the caller something like, “Don’t listen to my brother. He’s still driving a ’63 Dodge Dart. You know the one with a transmission controlled by dashboard push buttons. The only other vehicle on earth like it is the Space Shuttle.”

It appears Oregon’s state level education establishment has decided to lose the terms. The bottom line question is whether in dropping the names, the underlying commitment to proficiency measurement loses ground to the old system based on seat time. Not likely, is the reply. In fact, department folks working on the CIM/CAM issue say that proficiency including portfolios or other demonstration systems is central to any revisions being considered.

Elimination of the CIM and CAM, which never really went into effect, is the public relations centerpiece of the larger review underway of state graduation requirements. Beyond that discussion, which is being financed by several hundred thousand dollars of Gates Grant money, ODE staffers are working on a revision of ORS 329, the “Oregon Educational Act for the 21st Century.”  Plans now are to begin pulling together interested parties for a wholesale review of the statute with an eye toward eliminating pesky terms like CIM and CAM and at the same time clarify sections no one appears to have understood in the nearly decade and a half the law has been on the books and eliminate or update sections that have been on the books but out of the classroom for lack of interest or money.

Examples like a mandatory teacher mentoring program abound in the law and ODE staffers argue it’s time to clean them up, get them funded or get them out of the law. It also gives the department a chance to take statutory note of new programs like the state’s recently adopted and partially funded Virtual School District, federal requirements under No Child Left Behind and clarify the entire section in ORS 329.025 describing the characteristics of a school system.

It also offers an opportunity to rewrite the portion of the law regarding the Oregon report card and determine how it fits with NCLB and include new data characteristics unimagined when the card was created. The rewrite is expected to take on issues like early childhood education, integration of the “growth model” for measure student progress, clarify the current waiver system and rewrite the state assessment system.

The plan is a very big bill that will confront legislators with a major rewrite of state education policy. But the folks at ODE also are convinced the entire thing can be done without really changing anything districts are currently doing or have adopted as a result of the old ORS 329 scheme. They haven’t figured out how to recognize kids that meet what we will no longer call CIM standards or how school to work programs will shake out (it goes by the name never to be mentioned). But, this will be part of the rewrite process.

This also will be an opportunity for some new ideas but no one has yet ventured too far from ODE central with those suggestions. What’s clear is that this project will dovetail with the other one to revamp Oregon graduation requirements incorporating a lot of the thinking that gets rid of CIM and CAM but keeps the concepts and incorporates them into the diploma.

This review will be an opportunity for expansive thinking and one that we hope will excite conversation among COSA members. Please take time to write us your opinions or ideas on this blog and we’ll be sharing them with decision makers at the department.

Comments (12)Add Comment
Director of Instructional Services
written by Tim Mobley, June 08, 2006
I like dumping the names CIM and CAM. The general public never understood them anyway and lots of kids didn't care. I think performance evaluation and credit for proficiency are the way to go. It is time to either fund what we are being asked to do or not do it. The new graduation requirements all sound good, but without funding won't work.
written by Bob Dunton, June 08, 2006
Smart politics to drop those pesky terms. Hope nobody is embarrased to remember that they were put in place because they were perceived to be strong in precisely the ways in which they have turned out to be weak. Will the next round be improved?

The worst elements of the CAM have been integrated into the new graduation requirements (which, it seems, are destined to be revised every year or so), requiring more and more paperwork without adding an ounce of value to the high school experience.

The business folks are running the show, and it will be fun to see what comes next(and what cure they come up with five years from now for the problems the current 'fix' will cause).
Confused at WHS
written by Jim Jamieson, June 08, 2006
I admit to being confused when people criticize the CIM or CAM. What parts of the CIM will we eliminate? It is, of course, two parts. The testing now required under NCLB will not go away. The second part is high quality classroom projects: math problems, speeches, writing assignments, etc that we say we want kids to master.

Anyone want to argue against that? Will any school stop asking students to do those things?

The recordkeeping is troublesome. No argument from me about that.

Kids and most adults do not value it. ODE and the legislature have never tried to give it value. Shame on them for that.The Oregon University System used to track how those frosh who had attained a CIM did at OUS campuses. They found it a good predictor of success, but they did not champion it either.

Employers rarely if ever ask about CIM or CAM attainment. Sometimes they do not ask to see diplomas or GPA's either in the rush to hire.

I lay the blame on state level policy makers, including the business community for saying they want higher standards and then for not "walking the walk."

As for the CAM, I do not think its "worst elements" are developing an educational plan and profile, or demonstrating an extended application of learning and so forth. Is there a school that would not want all students to have these opportunities?
A few thoughts from over the hill
written by Edward Jensen, June 08, 2006
It seems to me (if my memory serves me actually) CIM and CAM came about from the 21st Century Education Act, which received it geneses from a 53-minute presentation in front of a joint session of the 1991 legislature. (I believe it was video taped if anyone wants to do a Fox – “fair and balanced” to check my recollection.) In that presentation it was declared the cataclysmic, apocalyptic end of the educational world was at hand. All of society would perish from the implosion of the skill and technological expertise business required, and this implosion would send us back to the beginnings of life. It was proclaimed the reason for this catastrophe was because all of us “slackards” feeding at the public trough weren’t doing the job that needed to be done.

Consequently, the legislature put together a gospel that would save us from our selves. When the gavel dropped and they said “let there be education;” CIM and CAM were born from the troubled waters of the deep; volumous paper work and data storage was brought into being from ex nihilo, school report cards parted the sea of relationship between schools, student ability and statistics; time was converted into a new relationship between teaching and adjusting schools personnel to fit the “new” gospel; educational bureaucracy became one with the expanding Universe, and report generation and where money is spent have taken on new meaning.

But not is all lost. We get to start the process all over again. This time let's hope something different will take place instead of: a) new terminology; b) new rules; c) new bureaucracies; d) new laws; and e) new ways of spending money; f) new ways to spend time and resources. Remember there was a part of the 21st Century Education Act that never received the attention it deserved. “Time on task.”

“Time on task” is the concept that students learn more and retain more the longer they have to learn. Since the 1970’s it has been a research proven fact more days of instruction equates to more learning. Furthermore, this same research established that “time on task” was the most crucial character of the classroom to affect the quality of education. The saving factor of the 21st Century Education Act was the component that students would go to school for 210 days instead of 180. Unfortunately it was thrown out because ……………. “Yup, you guessed it.” …………”It cost to much money!”

I wonder if the past costs incurred to improve education, and the future costs to be incurred improve education, do not far exceed what it would have cost to have more student time with the talented and excellent teachers of Oregon.
Assessment, Evaluation, and the Working
written by Mark Skinner, June 08, 2006
The terms "CIM" and "CAM" have unfortunately become pejorative. The concept is valid; it's up to everyone from the State to classroom teachers to agree on the appropriate implementation. Without buy-in at all levels, any restructuring of CIM and CAM will be another high-profile failure, and public education in Oregon will lose even more credibility.

Performance evaluations and demonstrations of proficiency have been around in the corporate world for years. As a former corporate trainer, I required participants to complete a combined written and skill-based exam before awarding them a certificate of completion for one- to seven-day courses. Students need to be well prepared for this kind of performance assessment when the come out of the public school system and enter the working world.
Principal Nyssa High School
written by Ken Ball, June 08, 2006
Regardless of acronyms or titles (CIM, CAM, etc), and whether they are eliminated, tweaked, or ignored, is really a polical arena that I choose not to enter. Pendulums swing continually in the world of education as long as someone is providing the necessary push to keep the continual movement going. However, what I am concerned with is that a quality assessment plan still exists and is user friendly. Also, accountability has to be built in that has teeth in it (not threats or ghost promises) that is relevant to students and parents as well as the schools. Maybe tying the assessment process into diplomas (?) Just some thoughts. Ken :-)
written by Jan Ophus, June 08, 2006
I lament a casualty of this decade-long fracas involving CIM, CAM, PASS, and now CRL's and Extended Applications that has for the most part gone unmentioned: the credibility of those who believed and who labored for the worthy changes involved.

A "this too shall pass" message has been received by far too many educators during these years--a message communicated by the legislature's unwillingness to fund education much less education reform and by a fundamentally disinterested citizenry. Just wait it out. It'll go away. Don't pay close attention to that principal laboring to pump it up one more time for school reform at the opening in-service. He can't really believe what he's saying. CIM doesn't mean anything. Parents and kids know that. Everyone knows that. What's that he's talking about now? Differentiated learning? He's got to be kidding?
Unfortunate Confusion
written by Howard Fetz, Assistant Superin, June 08, 2006
I concur with Jim Jamieson's comments above. It seems unfortunate that the public and many educators have been misled by the Superintendent's somewhat ill-advised comments about CIM/CAM to mean that we are returning to a world without student assessments and data.

Certainly, federal regulations will require Oregon to continue assessing student achievement and reporting on it. How we go about doing that and what we report is largely out of our hands. What we name our assessments is, I suppose, our Oregon perogative, but regardless of the name, the requirements will stay essentially the same.

Students, educators, lawmakers, and the public need to know that!
Director of Curriculum & Assessment
written by John kelly, June 09, 2006
An agrarian school calendar in the most industrialized nation in the world is an anachronism that should have been abolished a century ago. The vulnerable, poor and uneducated are the children who suffer the most from educational relapse over the ridiculously long summer break.
Assistant Principal - Philomath High Sch
written by Jon Bartlow, June 12, 2006
It is not surprising to see CIM and CAM on the way out. When I started my career in Oregon as a counselor in 1989 we were still recording competencies for students before graduation. This had largely become an act of checking off performance standards that had supposedly been imbedded in the curriculum. Little or no state direction or support caused “proficiencies” to become meaningless, while the idea itself had much merit. I was told then that this was just the cycle of education.

Now we face the same issues with CIM and CAM, and because education, which was formerly the child of the state, is now under the head of a massive federal bureaucracy, we will continue to meet externally imposed “standards” that come with no financial support. The feds demand assessments, and we now have a strong system to test students (TESA). Will we start that process all over again just because it is presently tied to CIM? I fear we might, and this would mean needless expense to no purposeful end. I am resigned to the fact that change is coming, but schools will continue to give students real world experiences such as senior projects and the like whether change comes or not. The externals will change, and our educational credibility will again take another hit with the public at large, but that is nothing new. We have known for years that it is educators themselves who have shown the initiative to be innovative when it comes to teaching and learning, but we have instead been seen as sitting on our heels and letting the world pass us by. In fact, the biggest concern with legislative change is that the very educators who invested the most in the present system will be once again blamed for it’s failure. That said, there could be a silver lining to this cloud of change. If CIM and CAM go, maybe the state report card will change to reflect the real work going on in schools and not something entirely different, and counter productive.

The Oregon High School graduates today are miles ahead of those who finished school in the 1970s when I was their age. I would challenge any state legislator to come to Philomath and see the work our students complete for their Senior/CAM Projects and still say they are not leaving school ready to face the real world. Academically speaking we are doing a great job with fewer staff than we need. Where we are missing the boat is in the professional technical education fields we used to call vocational education, and in these forgotten areas we have cut to the bone.
written by Gene Carlson, June 12, 2006
Do I believe that the elements of the CAM and CIM have value? Probably they do. In truth there is no data one way or the other to demonstrate that to be true or false. Because there is not real data, all we are left with is each persons personal feelings about the issue. We certainly have seen that here on this blog.

Setting state standards based on personal beliefs is a sad commentary on our educational systems. If everyone in the world would have to follow my personal beliefs I would be comfortable, but it would be a really dull world. Setting state wide standards based on even a few peoples personal beliefs is not much better.

Does anyone recall that the CIM was originally designed as a k-10 academic program and the CAM was originally designed to be a grade 11-12 academic program and measurement system? Do you recall that over the years the legislature has affirmed the academic requirements for the CIM and the CAM more than once. The legislature in creating and/or revising the CAM never gave it a position of being solely a "work study" requirement as it now appears in our pedagogical set-up.

Does anyone remember how many times the legislature directed the Department of Education to establish standards and requirements for the CIM and the CAM as they were originally designed? Twice, in 1997 and 2003.

The directive by the legislature in 1997 was the standards for the CAM were to be adopted by March 1, 2000. The ODE and the State Board did not do that. At that time the CAM still had academic requirements.

In 2003 the legislature again directed the ODE and State Board to adopt standards for the CAM. The State Board, ignoring the original and reaffirmed legislation, adopted CAM "work study" standards in 2005.

During the years 2002-2004 the ODE, along with a select group about 10 of school districts, worked out what has become the newly defined "work study" CAM. The original concept of "world class" aademic standards was officially dropped. Certainly this fits into the concept of making our standards based on a few peoples ideas.

In 1995 the legislature re-established that the CAM was to be defined as follows: (1) It was to begin two years after the standards were adopted by the state; (2) It included two years of study with rigorous academic standards; (3) It was intended to prepare students for post-high school; (4) It provided a combunation of work related learning and study.

Somehow, in all this rush to "work study purity" we have forgotten there was an orginal and certainly more substantive part to the CAM; world class academic standards.(see 2,3 above)

It seems to me that ending the attempt at measuring academic progress at the 10th grade is a disservice to our children. Leaping instead into the world of work might not be an advantage.

Is there value in an educational profile and plan? In my mind, you bet. Are the other elements of the "new CAM" valuable? I don't know. But, we have left behind a big part of what was originally intended for the CAM as it related to the whole of k-12 education.

The newly designed CAM is not a good or bad move, so far as I am concerned because there is no data to substantiate it, or not. We lost a lot when it was done. We lost more than we gained, in my opinion.
written by Marvin McConoughey, June 22, 2006
Students, parents, and society as a whole, would benefit from honest and accurate grading of student performance. This should not be seen as a radical, unrealistic dream but as sober pragmatism. Formal student testing should be done quarterly if the school system is to know and react to individual student learning deficiencies in time to correct small failures before they foster larger student failures.

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This page was last updated on Wednesday, June 07, 2006 .