News

Reflections from Education Innovation Officer, Colt Gill, on his Statewide Engagement

Educators Umatilla

Engaging in Union, Umatilla, and Morrow Counties…

Data, partnerships, and student-centered pathways were key takeaways after visiting communities in Northeast Oregon last week. This region has been a long-time leader in developing relevance for high school students by delivering college credits to high school students through the Eastern Promise model. This is an impressive partnership across the districts served by Intermountain ESD, Blue Mountain CC, and Eastern Oregon University. The program stretches down to the elementary level with “Academic Momentum” setting students up with a 10-year plan for their future school and career goals. Students in Eastern Promise classes had a 28 percentage point higher high school completion rate (2013-14 data: 68.5% completion rate for Oregon students vs 96.6% completion rate for Eastern Promise students) and their college persistence rates are over 40 percentage points higher than students across Oregon.

La Grande and Morrow County School Districts highlighted outstanding community partnerships. Well over forty partners come together in significant ways to make La Grande’s Career Technical Education (CTE) Program meaningful and future-focused for students. Programs are offered in natural resources, industrial technology, visual arts, performing arts, business, and culinary. Morrow County School District has created partnerships that have tripled their financial investment in preparing students to be at school every day ready to learn. Strong partnerships between advocacy groups and the school districts in the three counties was also a highlight. The Umatilla Hispanic Advocacy Committee has developed deep partnerships with the region’s school systems. The partnership and agreements between the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and Pendleton School District serves as a model for Oregon. One highlight of the model partnership is that the tribe offers Native language instruction in the schools, this program enriches the experience of both American Indian students and non-American Indian students.

All of the programs were ambitious, creative, and motivational. However, one student-led program at Umatilla School District stood out as truly inspirational. Please take five minutes to check-out this student project focused on changing a culture to empower girls to become involved in robotics and engineering: www.facesofengineering.com.

Oregon’s STEM Hub Network Welcomes Two Americorp VISTA Members

In 2015, Oregon’s statewide network of eleven regional STEM Hubs was selected as one of 27 communities recognized by the National STEM Funders Network for innovative cross-sector partnership work focused on alignment and coordination of systems to support applied learning opportunities for Oregon’s learners. With support from the Chief Education Office and the Oregon Department of Education, South Metro Salem STEM Partnership (SMSP) and the Southern Oregon STEM Hub applied and were awarded two full-time Americorps VISTA volunteers through the STEM Funders Network’s STEM Ecosystems Initiative to support communications and the integration of youth voice and empowerment in design and decision-making regarding applied learning opportunities.

SMSP Welcomes Communications volunteer

The South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership, hosted by Oregon Tech in Wilsonville, is excited to welcome an Americorps VISTA member in August to support capacity-building goals in the area of communication and outreach for the entire state STEM Hub network.  Ian Zentner, a recent computer science graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz, will bring enthusiasm and skills developed through his extracurricular management of a college community radio program to the work of the STEM Hubs.

Ian will support the STEM Hub Network in two main ways.  First, he will facilitate the development of shared communication and marketing materials that support the development and distribution of some common core messages.  This work is critically important in strengthening the larger network infrastructure that unites the STEM Hubs.  Second, the South Metro-Salem STEM partnership developed and launched an online platform in early 2015, Oregon Connections, for industry professionals to engage with educators and students to expose students to the real-world applications of academic concepts and available career pathways.  Investments from the Department of Education and Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s Office of Community College and Workforce Development allowed for the expanded licensure of Oregon Connections to teachers throughout the state, beginning in Fall 2016.  Ian will support the development of training and recruitment materials to bring industry and community professionals into the system to support student learning in all areas of the state.

The Southern Oregon STEM Hub Welcomes Youth Voice VISTA Member

The Southern Oregon STEM Hub is thrilled to welcome an Americorps VISTA member, Allison Sweeney, who will support the Hub’s work in incorporating youth voice into STEM initiatives. With Allison’s leadership as a program coordinator, The Southern Oregon STEM Hub will pilot an initiative called the Chief Science Officer program beginning Fall 2016 with an eye to building a statewide network of young STEM leaders who will be empowered to take action and to be at decision-making tables regarding STEM opportunities in their schools and across the State of Oregon. Chief Science Officers are peer elected middle and high school students who build leadership skills and use them to bring exciting STEM experiences to their campus in order to foster a culture of curiosity and a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, helping to build a diverse and creative workforce. They also represent their peers in the STEM community and provide youth input to leaders in education and industry, providing a bridge between our current learners and the fastest growing sector of careers. Allison will focus her first year on building relationships with schools, community organizations, and industry partners to create a network of committed adults who will support the training and work of 50 CSOs who will be elected in Spring 2017. Over the next three years we hope to support at least 80 Chief Science Officers representing all 13 school districts in Jackson, Josephine, and Klamath Counties.

Meyer Memorial Trust and the Northwest Health Foundation Announce the Winners to their Equity Illustrated Contest

Earlier this year Northwest Health Foundation and Meyer Memorial Trust held an “Equity Illustrated” contest to help move toward a more equitable Oregon by asking “How would you illustrate equity to help your fellow Oregonians understand?”. Recently the winners were announced; three adult entries and one youth. You can see the winning illustrations by going to the Northwest Health Foundation website here.

Reflections from Education Innovation Officer, Colt Gill on his Statewide Engagement

Two Days in Hood River and Wasco Counties…

In coordination with the Statewide Regional Collaboration Summit at the Columbia Gorge Community College this week, I was able to convene with many more students, families, community members, board members, and educators from three districts over the course of three days: North Wasco County School District, Hood River County School District, and Dufur School District.

My biggest take away from these visits was the incredible amount of community involvement in these school systems. There were so many community organizations represented at the meetings and many more that interact daily with the students and the schools. These organizations cover a wide range of supports, from Juntos, which engages with Latino families and helps focus on high school graduation and paths to higher education, to the Dufur Garden Clubs that work with students in the FFA greenhouse, and everything in between.

Community support also came from a variety of public agencies and nonprofits including the Columbia Gorge ESD, the Department of Human Services, the education foundation, private donors, Helping Hands Against Violence, The Next Door, and several more. This is a community that comes together to ensure their students are supported.

Reflections from Education Innovation Officer, Colt Gill on his Statewide Engagement

Two Days in Hood River and Wasco Counties…

In coordination with the Statewide Regional Collaboration Summit at the Columbia Gorge Community College this week, I was able to convene with many more students, families, community members, board members, and educators from three districts over the course of three days: North Wasco County School District, Hood River County School District, and Dufur School District.

My biggest take away from these visits was the incredible amount of community involvement in these school systems. There were so many community organizations represented at the meetings and many more that interact daily with the students and the schools. These organizations cover a wide range of supports, from Juntos, which engages with Latino families and helps focus on high school graduation and paths to higher education, to the Dufur Garden Clubs that work with students in the FFA greenhouse, and everything in between.

Community support also came from a variety of public agencies and nonprofits including the Columbia Gorge ESD, the Department of Human Services, the education foundation, private donors, Helping Hands Against Violence, The Next Door, and several more. This is a community that comes together to ensure their students are supported.

Meyer Memorial Trust and the Northwest Health Foundation Announce the Winners to their Equity Illustrated Contest

Earlier this year Northwest Health Foundation and Meyer Memorial Trust held an “Equity Illustrated” contest to help move toward a more equitable Oregon by asking “How would you illustrate equity to help your fellow Oregonians understand?”. Recently the winners were announced; three adult entries and one youth. You can see the winning illustrations by going to the Northwest Health Foundation website here.

Solutions for Oregon’s Low Graduation Rate?

Natalie Pate, Statesman Journal       July 27, 2016

In December, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced the creation of a new position, the Education Innovation Officer.

Meant to advise Brown on the best practices and programs for schools statewide, the job leaves much to the imagination.

What does it mean to “engage with communities”? How will the results of such engagements help? What are the main goals of the position? And why was this position created when the state already has a Chief Education Officer and Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction?

To get to the root of these questions, the Statesman Journal spoke with Kristin Gimbel, public affairs director for the Chief Education Office; and Colt Gill, the state’s first Education Innovation Officer.

What is an Education Innovation Officer?

The Education Innovation Officer has one main goal — improve the state’s graduation rate — which, to be accomplished, comes with many other goals.

Oregon has one of the lowest graduation rates in the country, with only 74 percent of students graduating from high school on time. In the graduating class of 2015, about 11,800 kids did not graduate, Gill said.

The Legislature has approved a statewide goal of a 100 percent graduation rate by 2025. However, if the state were to “go about business as usual,” Gill predicted,150,000 children would be at risk of not graduating on time.

“We are in near-crisis mode,” he said.

It isn’t just a matter of graduating. The state also wants to know students are graduating prepared for their next steps in the workplace or college, which takes additional work.

While the Education Innovation Officer works closely with the Chief of Education and the Deputy Superintendent, his main job is focused on working to improve graduation rates and outcomes.

He is responsible for working with local communities, school districts, researchers, students and other stakeholders to identify existing successful practices, unravel challenges districts are facing, and delve into data and research on the subject — from Oregon and other states.

After gathering feedback and data, the officer will make recommendations to the governor, state agencies, and the Legislature regarding policies, budget priorities and supports needed.

Meet Colt Gill

Gill was appointed by Brown as Oregon’s first Education Innovation Officer in April. He was the longtime superintendent of the Bethel School District, which serves about 5,700 students in northwest Eugene.

He has been an Oregon educator for more than 25 years, serving as an adjunct professor at the University of Oregon and on a number of boards and commissions for the state and for various education and children’s health and wellness institutions.

As a native Oregonian, he said, and with a deep-rooted past in the state’s education system, this issue hits home with him.

Meeting with the community

Gill has been in the position for only a matter of weeks, so he said a routine hasn’t quite been established.

“Every day is a little different,” he said.

So far, Gill has been working with Gimbel to set up his community engagement events. Through the end of the summer, Gill will visit 18 counties to meet with focus groups. By talking with parents, students, educators and administrators, he said, he will get a better idea of what is working and what isn’t.

Gimbel said Gill’s meetings in Marion and Polk counties will come later in the season. When those dates, times and locations are set, the information will be released to the public so they know where and how to participate in the conversation.

Neighbor counties are welcome to join at these events as well as the state wants to get as broad coverage as possible, he said.

Initial findings

In addition to engaging with the community through these focus groups, Gill helped develop an inter-agency team — including the Early Learning Division, Department of Education and Chief of Education Office — that is charged with collecting and analyzing existing data to find themes of best practices.

While still in his position’s infancy, Gill said he is already learning a lot.

For instance, while Oregon students perform at or above average on national tests, that isn’t translating to an average or slightly above average graduation rate, as it tends to correlate in other states.

Oregon also has higher rates of absenteeism. Gill said this leads to the question, “How do we look at absenteeism differently than we have?”

Research shows the importance of student engagement, he said, meaning each student needs to feel engaged with the material. It needs to be relevant to students to be worth their coming back.

While saying “You need to graduate” may work for some, it won’t work for everyone, he said.

There are “great data on career technical education outcomes,” Gill said. “Even after one career technical education course, the student is 15.5 percent more likely to graduate.”

Gill said this translates across all demographics, whereas absenteeism and lower graduation rates disproportionately affect males and low-income students, as well as students of color.

Some districts in the country have adopted “early indicator and innovation systems” that detect issues in a child’s progress early on by tracking attendance, student behavior and grades, among other factors.

Chicago Public Schools has a similar structure to Oregon and have seen a great response to the indicator and innovations systems, Gill said, including a 4 percent increase in graduation rates every year for the past four years.

This is one of many models Gill and his team are analyzing and taking into consideration.

Goals

Gill said he will have short- and long-term goals based on his findings, all working toward the state’s 2025 goal.

Until then, he said, he is looking for steady progress.

“There is no instant fix,” he said. Gill wants to make sure the changes they make can be sustained over time as well.

“A big nut to crack is recognizing the implementation (of Gill’s suggestions) will have to look different for each community across the state,” Gimbel said. Gill is “being incredibly thoughtful … knowing not just one size fits all.”

Gill said it is important to “recognize the current system of education (in Oregon) is not working for all our students.”

With the policies, budget priorities and more that he and his team suggests, maybe one day it will.

For more information, go to education.oregon.gov or call 503-373-1283.

Solutions for Oregon’s Low Graduation Rate?

Natalie Pate, Statesman Journal       July 27, 2016

In December, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced the creation of a new position, the Education Innovation Officer.

Meant to advise Brown on the best practices and programs for schools statewide, the job leaves much to the imagination.

What does it mean to “engage with communities”? How will the results of such engagements help? What are the main goals of the position? And why was this position created when the state already has a Chief Education Officer and Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction?

To get to the root of these questions, the Statesman Journal spoke with Kristin Gimbel, public affairs director for the Chief Education Office; and Colt Gill, the state’s first Education Innovation Officer.

What is an Education Innovation Officer?

The Education Innovation Officer has one main goal — improve the state’s graduation rate — which, to be accomplished, comes with many other goals.

Oregon has one of the lowest graduation rates in the country, with only 74 percent of students graduating from high school on time. In the graduating class of 2015, about 11,800 kids did not graduate, Gill said.

The Legislature has approved a statewide goal of a 100 percent graduation rate by 2025. However, if the state were to “go about business as usual,” Gill predicted,150,000 children would be at risk of not graduating on time.

“We are in near-crisis mode,” he said.

It isn’t just a matter of graduating. The state also wants to know students are graduating prepared for their next steps in the workplace or college, which takes additional work.

While the Education Innovation Officer works closely with the Chief of Education and the Deputy Superintendent, his main job is focused on working to improve graduation rates and outcomes.

He is responsible for working with local communities, school districts, researchers, students and other stakeholders to identify existing successful practices, unravel challenges districts are facing, and delve into data and research on the subject — from Oregon and other states.

After gathering feedback and data, the officer will make recommendations to the governor, state agencies, and the Legislature regarding policies, budget priorities and supports needed.

Meet Colt Gill

Gill was appointed by Brown as Oregon’s first Education Innovation Officer in April. He was the longtime superintendent of the Bethel School District, which serves about 5,700 students in northwest Eugene.

He has been an Oregon educator for more than 25 years, serving as an adjunct professor at the University of Oregon and on a number of boards and commissions for the state and for various education and children’s health and wellness institutions.

As a native Oregonian, he said, and with a deep-rooted past in the state’s education system, this issue hits home with him.

Meeting with the community

Gill has been in the position for only a matter of weeks, so he said a routine hasn’t quite been established.

“Every day is a little different,” he said.

So far, Gill has been working with Gimbel to set up his community engagement events. Through the end of the summer, Gill will visit 18 counties to meet with focus groups. By talking with parents, students, educators and administrators, he said, he will get a better idea of what is working and what isn’t.

Gimbel said Gill’s meetings in Marion and Polk counties will come later in the season. When those dates, times and locations are set, the information will be released to the public so they know where and how to participate in the conversation.

Neighbor counties are welcome to join at these events as well as the state wants to get as broad coverage as possible, he said.

Initial findings

In addition to engaging with the community through these focus groups, Gill helped develop an inter-agency team — including the Early Learning Division, Department of Education and Chief of Education Office — that is charged with collecting and analyzing existing data to find themes of best practices.

While still in his position’s infancy, Gill said he is already learning a lot.

For instance, while Oregon students perform at or above average on national tests, that isn’t translating to an average or slightly above average graduation rate, as it tends to correlate in other states.

Oregon also has higher rates of absenteeism. Gill said this leads to the question, “How do we look at absenteeism differently than we have?”

Research shows the importance of student engagement, he said, meaning each student needs to feel engaged with the material. It needs to be relevant to students to be worth their coming back.

While saying “You need to graduate” may work for some, it won’t work for everyone, he said.

There are “great data on career technical education outcomes,” Gill said. “Even after one career technical education course, the student is 15.5 percent more likely to graduate.”

Gill said this translates across all demographics, whereas absenteeism and lower graduation rates disproportionately affect males and low-income students, as well as students of color.

Some districts in the country have adopted “early indicator and innovation systems” that detect issues in a child’s progress early on by tracking attendance, student behavior and grades, among other factors.

Chicago Public Schools has a similar structure to Oregon and have seen a great response to the indicator and innovations systems, Gill said, including a 4 percent increase in graduation rates every year for the past four years.

This is one of many models Gill and his team are analyzing and taking into consideration.

Goals

Gill said he will have short- and long-term goals based on his findings, all working toward the state’s 2025 goal.

Until then, he said, he is looking for steady progress.

“There is no instant fix,” he said. Gill wants to make sure the changes they make can be sustained over time as well.

“A big nut to crack is recognizing the implementation (of Gill’s suggestions) will have to look different for each community across the state,” Gimbel said. Gill is “being incredibly thoughtful … knowing not just one size fits all.”

Gill said it is important to “recognize the current system of education (in Oregon) is not working for all our students.”

With the policies, budget priorities and more that he and his team suggests, maybe one day it will.

For more information, go to education.oregon.gov or call 503-373-1283.

Oregon’s 2016 Reach Higher Summit

Landing Page Reach Higher

Oregon students share reflections on challenges and opportunities related to planning for their future at the Reach Higher Oregon Summit. Thanks to the First Lady’s Reach Higher Initiative and to Americas Promise and their Grad Nation campaign for their partnership in putting on the Summit.

 

Building a Web of Support; Study shows ways to keep students in school and headed for graduation

Seven threats

Gerry Obrian: Seven Threats

The Klamath Promise has been striving to improve student achievement in Klamath County with the goal of 100 percent high school graduation. Key in the Klamath Promise’s mission is the phrase, “we all play a part.”

The part everyone plays can make the difference between a graduate’s success or failure. According to a report released last year from America’s Promise and Grad Nation, the more support a young person has, the more likely he or she is to succeed and graduate from high school.

“Don’t Quit on Me” was published in September 2015. It builds on the 2014 report, “Don’t Call Them Dropouts.” While the previous report focused on why students didn’t complete high school, the 2015 report examines what fellow students, families and communities can do to help students succeed.

“The more sources of support a young person has, the more likely he or she is to stay in school,” is one of the simplest statements of the Don’t Quit on Me’s conclusion. Even one person’s influence can bring a dropout back to the classroom. “This anchoring relationship allows the young person to access available community assets – and to leverage internal strengths. This trusted, stabilizing adult … provides a foundation that allows a young person to consider new possibilities for the future and engage a Web of Support.”

That “Web of Support” is what the study calls friends, adults, school and friends who, together, help students achieve.

“To put it simply,” the report reads, “some young people may be standing in a room that contains all the support they need, but they need someone else to turn on the lights so they can see what’s there and reach for it.”

Adverse Life Experiences

Don’t Quit on Me identifies the “hurdles” to graduation by a more technical term, “adverse life experiences.” These are detrimental things that can happen in a young person’s life, especially between the ages of 14 to 18, that keep him or her from graduating and likely from succeeding later in life.

Common adverse life experiences are: suspension or expulsion; becoming a teen parent; experiencing a major health issue, homelessness or moving many times, often called mobility.

The study listed these findings

n Students who stop going to high school have had twice as many adverse life experiences as students who don’t drop out.

n More than half of students who stop going to high school had five or more adverse life experiences, compared to 20 percent of those who graduated

n For each additional adverse life experience, the chances of not graduating from high school rises by 19 percent.

n Being suspended or expelled more than doubles the odds of dropping out.

Building the web

How to combat these adverse life experiences and detrimental statistics? Relationships, the study says.

This is where the Web of Support comes in.

One Don’t Quit on Me’s key findings states: Social supports from multiple sources buffer the effects of adverse life experiences for most young people. However, those who are facing the greatest adversity need more intensive support than family, school and friends can provide.

It may sound obvious, but the more support from more places better combats those bad experiences earlier in life. The ones that made a difference were people who “cared about me, treated me fairly, showed me how to do things, helped me solve problems, made sure I had what I needed for school,” students told Don’t Quit on Me.

“The young people we interviewed and surveyed showed us that the strength, number and nature of relationships in their lives are important factors that influence their engagement with school,” the report reads. “What we learned, in part, is that small interventions can make a big difference for most youth. You don’t need to be everyone to be someone for a young person.”