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Student-Centered Teaching and Learning
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Key Elements in Achieving Oregon’s Redesign Vision

  • Put students at the center of decisions, investments, and practices
  • Expect all students to succeed.
  • Bias education funding to investment in student outcomes.
  • Make sure students are on track for success at every stage.
  • Encourage and support great teaching and deeper learning.
  • Organize state and local education policies and support structures around the priorities above.

Vision: Put Students at the Center

Students and Outcomes Take Priority

Oregon’s vision for education encompasses much more than the attainment goals embodied in 40-40-20. It speaks to the quality and depth of learning, equity, and the connection of education to careers, to vibrant communities, and to the Oregon economy.

Specifically, it envisions the following:

  • Oregonians attain deeper learning and higher levels of education than ever before, in particular this includes student populations traditionally left out or behind. This elevates the life prospects of individuals and meets the competitive needs of the Oregon economy.
  • All students (not just most) learn, advance, and attain the knowledge, skills, and credentials they desire.
  • We accomplish this by focusing policies and systems to 1) address education gaps and disparities before kindergarten, 2) support and scale best practices in student-centered teaching and learning that are achieving desirable, equitable student outcomes and 3) connect education more closely to careers and good paying jobs in demand.

How to Achieve the Vision

1. Put Students at the Center of Decisions, Investments, and Practices. In a student-centered education system, policies and funding are focused on outcomes. Education leaders are empowered to focus their institutions on student outcomes and great teaching. Teachers have the time, collaboration, training, and tools they need to foster learning and achievement. 

2. Expect All Students to Succeed. All students have innate capacity to learn, prepare well for postsecondary success, and then do well at the next level. The state’s 40-40-20 goal for student attainment is an expression of this belief. So are the high academic expectations that Oregon is adopting through the Common Core State Standards. This belief in student potential is fundamental to everything else. If this idea is universally adopted in practice our education system will stop functioning as a sorting mechanism that tolerates a high percentage of students falling by the wayside.

3. Bias Education Funding to Investment in Student Outcomes. Directing public dollars to education outcomes is a new but critically important idea. Historically, in Oregon and elsewhere, education budgets have funded classroom teaching and other school operations based on enrollments, with the assumption that these inputs to education produce the desired outputs. Contrary to this assumption, there is a growing body of thought that investing in defined outcomes makes more sense – and is more likely to produce those outcomes – than investing in activities or effort. This idea has far-reaching implications for education funding models.

4. Make Sure Students Are on Track for Success at Every Stage. Because students succeed at each stage of the education process only as well or as poorly as they are prepared, Oregon’s Chief Education Office has identified five stages of readiness that are critical to raise student achievement and education attainment. They are 1) ready for school, 2) reading proficiently by grade three, 3) on track from ninth grade to earn a high school diploma, 4) successful postsecondary study, and 5) ready to contribute to career and community.

One of the most important of these, for example, is the Early Literacy Initiative. It recognizes that by the third grade children should be making the transition from learning to read to reading to learn. It also recognizes that getting students to this critical juncture in their development starts well before they enter kindergarten and the first grade.

5. Encourage and Support Great Teaching and Deeper Learning. Student motivation is key. It is enhanced by improving teacher effectiveness, family support, and learning experiences centered on the needs and learning styles of students. Schools can’t make students learn but they can make learning more compelling by giving students stronger ownership in the process and the outcomes, providing clear standards and expectations, and offering more variety and choice in learning pace, venues, tools, and technologies. Encouraging and supporting great teaching tailored to student needs is the way to engender deep and engaged student learning.

6. Organize State and Local Education Policies and Support Structures Around the Priorities Above. The state’s role is to set student outcomes for its investment of public dollars and then to empower educators to succeed. It is not the state’s role to deliver teaching and learning services but to invest in great outcomes from the institutions that do. The state supports teaching and learning at significant scale in the way it makes policies, creates standards and accountability, funds education providers, and holds them accountable for outcomes.

Another Way to Look at It

The diagram below creates a framework for these ideas. The top strand of the framework illustrates desirable student outcomes both along the way and at the end of the P20 continuum. The middle strand illustrates the conditions for student success in a student-centered system. The bottom strand illustrates the role of the state and of local education institutions in supporting student-centered learning and great outcomes.

In a student-centered education system, policies and funding are focused on outcomes. Education leaders are empowered to focus their institutions on student outcomes and great teaching.