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Superintendent's Message

Superintendent's Report 04-11-16
Posted Thursday, April 14, 2016

Golden Apple Award Winners

This month the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation recognized four educators with the annual Golden Apple Awards to celebrate their outstanding contributions to students and the school communities where they work. Through a generous endowment provided by Mario and Alma Pastega, these awards celebrate that behind every successful student stands an extraordinary educator. Each recipient was awarded a golden apple for their desk, an award check, and name placement on the perpetual plaque in the meeting room of the Corvallis School Board. Congratulations to this year’s winners:

Robyn Chapman, music educator at Linus Pauling Middle School. Robyn has taught music at both Franklin and Linus Pauling. She is renowned for taking on extra projects ranging from talent shows to rewriting song lyric or assembly fun. Robyn is a top-notch musician with a positive attitude and an amazing amount of energy. She is described as a professional with a passion for music in all its forms.

Margie McShane, a second grade teacher at Adams Elementary. Margie is a champion for public education, grounded in tradition and willing to embrace innovation. She has a light-hearted spirit who engages students and supports staff. Margie is described as humorous, sweet, serious, organized, playful, a mentor, and a positive influence on colleagues. Because of Margie McShane, kids love coming to school!

Nancy Shaffer, Beyond CHS Coordinator at Corvallis High School. Nancy is our classified staff recipient this year and is an extremely effective college and career coordinator. She is highly respected by students and parents, never lacks passion or heart and organizes the many volunteers to help run the career center. Nancy is described by her colleagues as highly respected by students, parents and staff and most importantly, she is a strong advocate for our underserved students, championing equity.

Last, but definitely not least, Cherie Taylor, math and horticulture teacher at College Hill. Cherie goes above and beyond to help kids feel safe, secure and valued in her classroom. She takes extra time with students who are struggling and empowers all her students to be leaders. Her science and horticulture classes, along with construction math, are engaging, hands-on and real-time learning experiences. Cherie is described as innovative, passionate, intuitive, collaborative, and dedicated to student learning. Her passion is contagious!

Congratulations to all of our 2015-16 Golden Apple Recipients! You each inspire us to support and advocate for every child through your actions and dedication.

Technology Infrastructure Evaluation

In order to continue building toward a state of the art infrastructure that supports all of our technical systems across the district and school buildings, we are collaborating with LBLESD by bringing in engineers from Technology Integration Group of Eugene, a top-shelf CISCO certified network consulting firm, to evaluate both of our infrastructures and how they interact with each other and Comcast. The end result for both the ESD and Corvallis is a technology infrastructure that will take us far into the future. Once the study is completed, we will provide recommendations to the Board with options to strengthen and enhance our current system. Ultimately, this could include an infrastructure that continues to interface with LBLESD or one that can stand alone in our district.

Spanish-Speaking Family Technology Night

Last week, Linus Pauling Middle School hosted a technology night for families held all in Spanish. Parents joined students and classroom teachers for K-2nd, 3rd-5th, and 6th-8th grade digital learning demonstrations. Teachers and students shared with parents how devices are being integrated in instruction in our classrooms. Parents had the opportunity to ask questions and navigate educational apps used by students and teachers.

Future of Learning Summit

Leaders of the Corvallis School District have embarked on an educational visioning process that will create aspirational guidelines for how education will be delivered well into the 21st century. These guidelines will eventually inform long-range facilities planning with the delivery of educational programs as a priority. In addition to educators, a diverse collection of voices and perspectives were invited to participate in the initial phase of this process at a “Future of Learning Summit” on March 31. This process will continue through the spring, with a report to be provided to the school board in June.

This is a community that values education and there is no shortage of interest in how to provide the best outcomes for all students. Building on our foundation of academic excellence, commitment to equitable opportunities for all students, and the great diversity in our community, we are excited to imagine a future that looks different from our current system. We have become more student-centered and our educational system must reflect that.

At the March 31 summit, educational and community representatives participated in a fast-paced session. Community attendees included parents and students and representatives from Oregon State University, Head Start, local arts and social service organizations, the Boys and Girls Club of Corvallis, and Linn Benton Community College. Participants explored core educational concepts that align with community values and expectations for our children. Facilitated by Architects of Achievement consultant Victoria Bergsagel, participants were provided a glimpse of the future of education. An example included San Diego, California’s High Tech High School, where students are focused on active, inquiry-based learning in a school building that more closely resemble the Google campus than a traditional educational building.

Themes that emerged from the day included personalized and authentic learning experiences and adaptive and flexible learning environments that integrate collaborative workspaces and the outdoor environment.

This is the first of many steps that we are taking to thoughtfully plan how to best meet the educational needs of students that are coming of age in a time of globalization and rapid change. Before we make any decisions about our facilities, we realize that instruction is at the heart of any future school buildings.

Educator Advancement Council Appointment

Governor Kate Brown has established a new Council on Educator Advancement aimed to support high quality teaching and to develop a culturally competent workforce throughout the state of Oregon.  Colleen Works an administrator in the Corvallis School District, is one of 17 members appointed to the council by Governor Brown.

Ms. Works is currently the Assistant Principal at Corvallis High School and was the 2011 Oregon Teacher of the Year. “I’m happy to have the opportunity to participate on this council. With 32 years of classroom teaching and my recent experience as high school administrator, I hope that my viewpoint contributes those perspectives in a unique way,” notes Ms. Works. “This work is crucial in our efforts to strengthen instructional practices across the state. I believe this is a dynamic opportunity to look at some of the state’s equity issues and offer teachers the resources needed to increase equity in all Oregon classrooms.”

The council will begin meetings this month and will provide findings and recommendations to the Governor late this summer.

Community Update Publication

It has been several years since we have provided a publication to the Corvallis community about the state of the district. Next week, we will be mailing to households and sharing electronically and in print form copies of the report. The main focus points of the update include the District’s vision, strategic priorities, demographics and highlights of outcomes and student successes.

 
Superintendent's Report 03-07-16
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2016


Innovation Team formed to explore Future of Education

We are embarking on a process to explore the future of learning and to develop guidelines and principles that will help us shape teaching and learning in Corvallis in the coming 10-20 years. Working with Architects of Achievement, an educational visioning consultant, we have formed an Innovation Team comprised of school district personnel and educational experts.  Team members will participate in a three month series of meetings that will include investigating educational trends and challenging conventional assumptions. The team will participate in study tours of progressive and best practice school districts, and will help to create a long range educational plan for the district that will also inform our ongoing long range facilities planning process. We will be providing communications updates as we proceed in this work.

Instructional Technology Review

Last month, we provided the school board with detail about the costs of sustaining the 1:1 program K-12 at an estimated cost of $1.2 million dollars annually. Since then there has been some confusion about what the $1.2 million covers, the rationale for technology investments, health concerns for younger students, and student outcomes. I’d like to spend some time in my superintendent’s report addressing these topics.

The annual figure accounts for future ready classrooms, student device replacements, digital curricula, technical staff support and coaching, and professional development. We have not cut any classes, programs, or staff since we began this instructional technology expansion. This investment is spread across the entire school district K-12.

The only additional funds requested for next year’s expansion is $250,000.  Specific funding areas in that $250,000 increase include:
- Focus on future ready classrooms (currently 84% are fully interactive)
- Improve grade 6-8 device management (classroom carts)
- Increase professional development and staff support
- Complete K-8 implementation (46 classrooms in 5 schools)
- At least double the number of high school pilot projects (iPad, HP 360, Chromebook, Lenovo Yoga, Surface Pro)

One of the questions we have heard is why are we not redirecting these funds to alter classroom sizes. If we were to do so, the net effect would be a reduction of only one student per classroom across the district, recognizing that staffing does not equate this easily and impact would be unequal across grade levels. We would need to invest over $10 million to get our class sizes down to where research suggests potential positive impact on student learning.

Another question we’ve heard is “why fully implement k-8 and not high school next year?” It’s important to remember that instructional technology is about providing access for all students at all grade levels. That is our long term intention. The Technology Advisory Committee has recommended and we support full high school implementation as soon as possible. High school classrooms have comprehensive and diverse course offerings. We want to ensure that we select a device that is appropriate. Several pilot projects are underway with various hybrid laptop and tablet devices.

Another parent concern that we are aware of is the question about how much screen time is acceptable, especially for younger students. The American Academy of Pediatrics has taken an official position that “not all screens are created equally” and “when used appropriately, technology and media can enhance children’s cognitive and social abilities.” In our 1:1 schools, student devices supplement traditional tools such as art supplies, outdoor exploration, books, pencils, and crayons. Screen time in our primary classrooms averages no more than 30 minutes a day for kindergarten classrooms, and 30-45 minutes per day for first and second grade classrooms. Tablet devices do not travel home with our K-2 students.

We are committed to future ready classroom and making sure that students are equipped to be responsible digital citizens. The Technology Advisory Committee provided recommendations with input on topics ranging from parent concerns about health and internet safety, to parent communications and board policy related to technology. With these recommendations our board has adopted policy changes and staff has developed parent publications to address concerns about privacy, security, and access to content. Our goal is to help parents with tools and concepts to support the age appropriate use of technology.

A review of 40 sets of student data files, encompassing the school years 2013-14, 2014-15, and the first half of 2015-16 was recently conducted in an effort to provide conclusive student outcomes as they related to the use of student devices.

- Middle schools and Garfield student behavior referrals have been cut in half since the implementation of the 1:1 program
- Cheldelin and Linus Pauling Middle Schools have experienced a drop in the number of students in need of significant behavior and academic support.

 - Cheldelin has had a huge drop in the number of Red zone students over the past three years: 15% in 2013-14, to 0.5% so far in 2015-16.
- LPMS has also had a drop in the number of students who reach the Red zone over the past three years: 7.9% in 2013-14, to 0% so far in 2015-16.
- Student growth in 6-8 grade OAKS reading included every student group including student of poverty, students of color, students with disabilities, English Language Learners
- Student growth in 6-8 grade OAKS math included every student group except students with disabilities

We reviewed STAR data for Fall-to-Winter for Garfield and Lincoln (2nd-5th graders) with the following results:
- Reading: Average scale score growth between screening windows was higher this year than last year for all grades. This was also true when comparing “approximate cohorts.” For example, 2015-16 3rd grade growth was higher than their prior 2nd grade year (2014-15).
- Math:  Average scale score growth between screening windows was higher this year than last year for all grades except 2nd.

While this data review showed several positive results in 1:1 schools, we are careful in drawing explicit correlations. I want to caution that isolating and measuring the effect of a single intervention is an imprecise endeavor as we have not attempted to control the many variables at play in student learning. We know the single most influential factor in student achievement is teacher effectiveness. Additionally highly effective instructional leaders are at each building and are implementing a variety of innovative and intentional programs to increase student learning.

We envision student devices as an enhancement to the learning environment. The expansion of instructional technology is intended to broaden student learning, not limit it to a screen. Project based, hands-on learning will continue to be a daily activity in our schools. We will hear tonight from the director of the OSU Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning, Dr. Martin Storksdieck about a research study that will further inform our instructional technology practices.

Oregon Lawmakers Support Post Graduate Scholars

With support from Senator Sara Gelser, I am pleased to report that Senate Bill 1537 is on its way to Governor Kate Brown’s desk.  The House of Representatives and Senate voted in favor of the bill that will allow high school students to attend community college as a post-graduate scholar if they met certain criteria. This program, in the current form of “Running Start” in our district has been a significant factor in helping our students find a renewed commitment to their educational journey and success as first year college students at LBCC.

 
Superintendent's Report 02-08-16
Posted Friday, February 12, 2016

2014-15 Graduation Rates

We are extremely proud to share the 2014-15 graduation and completion data from the Oregon Department of Education and the amazing results for our district. For the third consecutive year our data is showing positive growth for high school graduates and fifth year completion. This is a transformational improvement in the 4 year graduation rate- a jump from 67.5% in 2012 to 86% in 2015 (compared to the state average of 73.8%). The five year completion rate of 92.8% also represents a 9.7% increase since 2012 and is significantly greater than the state’s average of 81.6%.

All student groups have shown dramatic increases since 2012.


Student groups

4-yr Grad. 2012- 2015

Econ. Disadvantaged

45.7% to 73.3% + 27.6%

English Language Learners

32.4% to 46.7% + 14.3%

Special Education

31.5% to 64.2% + 32.7%

Hispanic

55.9% to 81.1% + 25.2%


In 2012-13, there were no College Hill seniors that went on to attend college. Last year, 70% of our College Hill seniors enrolled as college students. Additionally, looking at the persistence rate for Linn-Benton Community College, for the 5th year program students across our region, over 70% continue on for their certification or second year, as opposed to only 58% of traditional students.

It takes courage to achieve this kind of shift in our educational system. All staff have focused on individual students and personalized learning. We are sustaining the work that we started in 2012 and focusing on continually moving student growth upward.

These impressive gains can be attributed in part to our focus on inclusive and equitable practices for all students. By prioritizing resources where needed most and identifying and removing barriers to student success, we are seeing that all students can make progress towards graduation. We also recognize that the community is vital to student success.

We are appreciative of the ongoing support through local option levy funds and private donations through the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation that provide additional staffing and support for students.

5th Year Programs/Post-Graduate Scholars

There were two hearings before the Oregon Senate Education Committee last week. Eric Wright and three College Hill students testified on behalf of our Running Start program. The bill describes the narrow circumstances under which a school district can claim state school funds for students who have satisfied the requirements of a standard high school diploma after 4 years of high school. These students are referred to as post-graduate scholars.

The post-graduate scholar initiative increases high school graduation rates, which makes it something we can’t walk away from. However, the current proposal allows time to target the program, create equity, and gather the data needed to identify the appropriate long term funding source, which may or may not be State School Funds in 2019.

A primary concern that this initiative addresses is that students not eligible for the new Oregon Promise community college scholarships are disproportionately low income students, English Language Learners, students with disabilities, students of color, and students who struggled early in their high school career but were able to get back on track to graduate. We don’t want to lose these students and we must identify a stable funding source to best support them.

The draft bill outlines targeted criteria for school districts and for students to meet in order to allow post-graduate scholars to participate in a 5th year college credit and certification program. The vote will occur in the Senate Education Committee this Thursday and if it passes, the bill will go to budget.

CHS Selected for Nike School Innovation Fund College and Career Readiness Grant

Nike School Innovation Fund’s mission is to fuel excellence in education through innovation. The NSIF College and Career Readiness Program aims to increase the number of students who graduate on time and prepare all students to succeed in high school and beyond. High schools across the state of Oregon were invited to apply and Corvallis High School is a recipient of a $17,000 grant supporting staff training and materials for the AVID program.

Presentation to Benton County Commissioners Regarding Health Navigators

On February 16, I will lead a team in a presentation to the Benton County Board of Commissioners requesting continued funding for the Health Navigators program. This successful partnership is grant funded through Benton County with the grant expiring June 2016 and with no formalized plan to continue Health Navigator services.  

The success of our Health Navigators and the outreach provided to our families, particularly underrepresented families, has been incredibly successful. Over 2,000 contacts have been made with student families this year. This specialized community outreach helps to bridge school and health services for our students.

Equity Meetings with leaders from City of Corvallis, OSU and LBCC

President Ed Ray from Oregon State University, President Greg Hamann from LBCC, Mayor Biff Traber, City Manager Mark Sheppard and I met this month to discuss how to partner around the topic of equity. Our hope is to collaborate funding, events, and professional development to help educate and liberate our community to enhance opportunities and access for every child, parent, employee, and community member.

High School Friday ALL schedule change for next year

In order to address ongoing equitable access concerns for all students, the Friday- ALL high school schedule has been under review since last spring. At my direction a staff committee is working on new scheduling options to replace the ALL day and will provide a recommendation this month that will be implemented next fall.


 
Superintendent's Report 1-19, 2016
Posted Friday, January 22, 2016

Recognizing our School Board Members

Along with 196 other school districts throughout Oregon, we celebrate the volunteer service of school board members this month.

In Corvallis, we are a community of volunteers and our school board is part of that mosaic. We are very fortunate to have a group of educated, thoughtful, and committed individuals serving on our board. They are committed to what’s best for all students as they come to the table as individuals collaborating and unifying as one board.

School board members are publicly elected officials, representing citizens-at-large, versus by ward. They serve a term of four years and represent their fellow citizens’ views and priorities in the complex work of running our public schools. They also reinforce the principle of local control over public education, which is an important and highly valued aspect of education in Oregon. Their primary role is to establish policies which will promote student achievement, support continuous school improvement and maintain sound fiscal management.

Corvallis schools have a tradition of excellence that can be tied directly to the vision and commitment of our school board. In addition to regular board meetings, they participate in committees including finance, educational and facilities long range planning, equity, special education, sustainability, policy, and technology. In partnership with staff, the board thoughtfully deliberates and decides on the path forward for education in Corvallis. Their efforts often go unrecognized and we are honored to take a moment to recognize this outstanding group of individuals. Chris, Tom, Judy, Bill, Vince, Alexis, and Scott, on behalf of the Corvallis School District, I thank you for your service and support of our students and staff.

CHS Choir Premiers Commissioned Work

In the words of Plato, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”

I was honored to make the opening comments at the December 16 concert of the Corvallis High School Choirs.  The evening began with a performance by a unity ensemble from Crescent Valley and Corvallis High Schools, led by Directors Annie Kubitschek and Aubrey Patterson, respectively.

Then, the CHS concert choir premiered a commissioned work by Timothy Takach. College and high school choirs in 42 other states are premiering this work this winter and CHS was selected to perform the Oregon premiere!

We are fortunate in Corvallis to have strong performing arts programs in our schools. Our choral, band, theater, and orchestra directors bring tremendous passion and professionalism to our students and to the stage.

5th Year Programs/Postgraduate Scholars

As the legislative short session begins soon, I was asked to present to legislative concept around 5th year programs to the House Education Committee last week. That same afternoon, Senator Gelser presented to the Senate Education Committee. Within the next week, the two Committees will need to vote the concept into a draft bill to present during the month long session in February.

This bill describes the narrow circumstances under which a school district can claim state school funds for students who have satisfied the requirements of a standard high school diploma after 4 years of high school. These students are referred to as postgraduate scholars.

The draft bill outlines targeted criteria for school districts and for students to meet in order to allow postgraduate scholars to participate in a 5th year college credit and certification program.

We know from our last legislative session, that for some people, the idea of providing any support to postgraduate scholars is not palatable. For others, preserving services for this population is a matter of equity. Students not covered by Oregon Promise will disproportionately be low income students, English Language Learners, students with disabilities, students of color, and students who struggled early in their high school career but were able to get back on track to graduate. We don’t want to lose these students and we must identify a stable funding source to best support them.

This is an initiative that increases high school graduation rates, which makes it something we can’t walk away from. However, this proposal allows time to target the program, create equity and gather the data needed to identify the appropriate long term funding source, which may or may not be State School Funds in 2019.

Graduation Rates To Be Announced

The 2014-15 graduation rates will be released by the Oregon Department of Education publicly on January 28th. We will provide a media release and update to our community that day.

 

Superintendent's Message Archive

Contact Us

Superintendent's Office
Phone:  541-757-5841
Address:  1555 S.W. 35th St., Corvallis, OR 97333
Staff:    Erin Prince, Superintendent, 541-757-5841
  Julie Catala, Executive Assistant, 541-757-5841  
 

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