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State Restructures Education Governance

In 2011 the Governor and Legislature decided that Oregon needed a different kind of governance structure in public education if it hoped to transform the system so it functioned more effectively on behalf of learners.

That governance, they agreed, should unify the balkanized segments of the system, creating more seamless learning standards, pathways, and opportunities for students. It should bust barriers that block student progress. It should invest more directly and intentionally in learning outcomes. While it should accord schools the flexibility to achieve better outcomes, it should also make investments to support them in those efforts.

Consequently, the Legislature made substantial governance changes to launch system redesign. In SB 552 it designated the Governor as superintendent of public instruction. In SB 909, it empowered the Governor to create and chair a 13-member Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB). The Governor did that in 2011. SB 909 authorizes the OEIB to hire and oversee a chief education officer to manage state investment in education and to coordinate learning services in a unified P20 public education system. (The 2015 Legislature subsequently dissolved the OEIB but retained the Chief Education Officer and created the Chief Education Office to oversee coordination of state education policy and governance.)

SB 909 also authorized the OEIB to create and oversee a nine-member early childhood learning council to merge, redesign, or improve services for a range of state programs that serve very young children and their families. The Early Learning Council, created in 2011, has since planned and begun the changes discussed in the Early Learning section of this site.

The 2013 Legislature restructured state governance and investment in postsecondary education, giving state universities more autonomy and according the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) additional authority to oversee and coordinate Oregon’s investments in community colleges, state universities, and student need-based financial aid. That is explained more fully at the Postsecondary section in this site.

The 2013 session also made a commitment to improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education with HB 2636. This bill established the STEM Investment Council to assist the Chief Education Officer in developing a strategy to double the number of 4th and 8th grade students who are proficient in science and math and to double the number of STEM college graduates by 2025. 

State Support for Better Outcomes and Accountability

Oregon is also changing the way it invests state dollars for outcomes and it is providing support to education providers that will help them achieve higher outcomes and more accountability. This includes work on new funding formulas, increased funding and support for educator development, adoption of better standards and assessments, and creation of a longitudinal student database more useful to students, teachers, schools systems, and policy makers.

State governance is focused on unifying the balkanized segments of the system, creating more seamless learning standards, pathways, and opportunties for students, and investing in outcomes.