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'Off The Record' tackles assessments, school funding and more Print E-mail

More than 100 Oregon superintendents discussed hot topics – ranging from changes in state assessments to high school graduation requirements to school funding advocacy to November ballot measures – at the OASE “Off The Record” meeting at the Salem Convention Center this afternoon.

Superintendents questioned Oregon Department of Education assistant superintendents Nancy Latini and Doug Kosty about the federally-mandated alteration of state assessments, which requires two significant changes: 1) establishment of new “cut scores” for state tests of 3rd, 5th, 8th and 10th graders, and 2) new testing procedures for IEP students.  Many superintendents expressed great concern about the timeline for the changes, the scope of the proposed work and the processes for accomplishing the work, and related communications planning and delivery to parents and the public.

Latini and Kosty said their departments are hard at work addressing the required changes.  Meetings with federal and state groups have been held, with more scheduled.  ODE has been working with the University of Oregon to design new measures for IEP students since last June, Latini said, and practice tests, as well as training for teachers, are anticipated to be in place by January.  She said ODE would fund costs of substitutes or stipends related to training.  Expect more information about special education assessments from ODE in the very near future, and learn more about these issues at the Fall Special Education Conference for Administrators in Eugene October 11-13.

Kosty said that ODE is meeting with U.S. Department of Education officials Monday and Tuesday.  He said ODE will be seeking volunteers to serve on stakeholder (administrators, teachers, parents, community and business members) panels to set performance standards.  Those panels are set to meet in December, and their task will be to establish the “cut scores.”  Those cut scores will apply to assessments for this school year.  Kosty also said that State Superintendent Susan Castillo has agreed to engage a law firm with national stature to find areas that Oregon can “push back” on federal mandates related to assessment.

OASE has made plans to form a task force to develop a position paper and influence decisions about state assessment changes.

In other news from the “Off The Record” meeting:

  • The group discussed COSA’s proposal for school funding advocacy during the 2007 Legislative session.  The proposal, considered at the OASE Funding Coalition meeting earlier in the day, calls for three main areas of emphasis: 1) Funding adequacy, including an investment menu for funding at some level above “roll-up” costs,  2) Funding stability, defined as a 10 percent “rainy day” fund for all state services, and 3) Elimination of the double majority voting requirement.  COSA staff took the Funding Coalition’s largely supportive input, and will return with a revised proposal in coming weeks. James Sager, an advisor to Gov. Ted Kulongoski, shared the governor’s four-year funding plan.  Sager said that the governor’s current target for K-12 funding in is $200 million above roll-up costs (currently estimated at about $5.85 billion).
  • Attendees heard a report about Ballot Measures 48 and 41 from Oregon Center for Public Policy Executive Director Chuck Sheketoff.  If passed, he said, the measures will have a devastating impact on schools and state services.  Earlier, Sager told the group that if either measure passes, “all bets are off” on the governor’s school funding plan.
  • The group discussed plans for influencing the State Board of Education’s drive to establish new high school graduation requirements.  A joint OASSA/OASE task force is being formed.
  • High Desert ESD Superintendent Dennis Dempsey and Greater Albany Public Schools Superintendent Pat Bedore discussed the ODE/OAESD partnership and related studies.  Watch for more information on this Website.
The meeting was sponsored by Comotiv Systems.
This page was last updated on Monday, April 05, 2010 .