Legislature Authorizes Redesign Across All Levels
Over the past five years the Oregon Legislature has authorized or reinforced significant restructuring of public education serving learners at all levels, in particular the 2011 and 2013 full sessions. Lawmakers focused on improvements in postsecondary education and early learning, as well as initiatives to improve early reading, postsecondary enrollment, STEM education, and teacher effectiveness. The 2013 and 2015 sessions also increased education funding at all levels.
Taken as a whole, the bills produced over the past five years support unprecedented redesign of Oregon’s public education system from early childhood programs to postsecondary studies. Here is a breakdown.
SB 253, Higher Attainment. SB 253 set the long-range strategic outcomes that education redesign seeks to help Oregonians achieve. By 2025, 100% are to have a high school diploma, 40% at least a bachelor’s degree, and 40% at least an associates or technical degree.
SB 909, New Governance Structure. SB 909 created the Oregon Education Investment Board, an education governing structure whose focus is to make investments of state funds in specific education outcomes. This 13-member board, chaired by the Governor or his designee, coordinates investments in learning services in a unified public education system for students from early childhood through postsecondary education. The legislation authorizes the OEIB to appoint a chief education officer. It authorizes 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.
SB 552, Governor as Superintendent of Public Instruction. SB 552 designated the Governor as superintendent of public instruction, consolidating this previously stand-alone office into the Governor’s portfolio.
HB 2220, Proficiency in Academic Standards as the Basis of Student Assessment and Grades. This measure, requires Oregon school districts, by July 1, 2013, to align instruction to state academic content standards, assess student progress strictly by demonstrated proficiency in the content standards, and to base student grades solely on demonstrated proficiency.
SB 252, School District Collaboration Grant Program. This program supports teacher-led efforts to design and implement reforms that improve practice in the classroom and recognize and reward excellence.
SB 290, Teacher Performance Standards and Evaluation. This legislation directs the State Board of Education to adopt performance standards for Oregon educators, incorporating multiple measures of student learning to be used in local teacher evaluations.
SB 242, Oregon University System Autonomy. SB 242 frees the Oregon University System from state agency status, giving it more autonomy and control over its finances. It also creates the Higher Education Coordinating Council (HECC).
SB 250, ESD Opt Out. SB 250 allows school districts to opt out of education service districts.
HB 2301, Online Charter Schools. This law eases enrollment restrictions on virtual charter schools. It requires these schools to supply 95% of instructional hours from licensed teachers.
HB 3681, School District Transfer Option. This measure adds market competition in public education by allowing students to transfer out of their school district if other districts are accepting transfers.
HB 4165, Early Learning Improvements. This multi-faceted measure expands early childhood services envisioned in 2011 under SB 909 by consolidating a number of existing programs, establishing funding sources, and encouraging the formation of local coalitions to deliver services under the purview of the Early Leaning Council. Its provisions include fostering more effective parenting of young children at risk.
SB 1581, Achievement Compacts and NCLB Waiver This measure strengthens the oversight role of the Chief Education Officer, establishes the Early Learning Council, and authorizes achievement compacts to focus all Oregon school districts, universities, and community colleges on moving toward the 40-40-20 goal.
HB 2013, Restructured Early Learning. To advance early childhood learning and readiness for school, this measure created early learning hubs at the community level to coordinate programs in child care, health, education, and family support. A companion bill, HB 3234, designated support for these services under one state office by creating the Early Learning Division in the Oregon Department of Education. The Legislature also allocated $4 million to an early learning innovation fund.
HB 3232, Section on Reading Improvement. HB 3232, an omnibus education investment bill, creates an Oregon Early Reading Initiative to strategically invest in high-impact programs and build awareness aimed at improving the number of students reading proficiently by the end of Grade 3.
HB 2636, STEM Investment. The session also made an ambitious policy and fiscal investment in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education with HB 2636. This bill establishes 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. Accompanying HB 2636 is an $8 million investment for incentive grants to boost STEM education in Oregon schools.
HB 3232 and SB 222, Transitions Past High School. A portion of HB 3232 creates the Connecting to the World of Work initiative to strategically invest in STEM networks and programs, and to scale up innovative models of high school- to-college transitions. HB 3232 makes investments in dual credit and other college credit opportunities, augmenting those already in place. SB 222 creates an Accelerated Learning Committee of the OEIB charged with identifying methods to encourage and enable students to obtain college credits while still in high school. Another section of HB 3232, Guidance and Support for Post-Secondary Aspirations, directly supports families and students in raising their education aspirations. The intent of the legislation is to increase the number of students on track for graduation at the end of 9th grade to 85% and to focus on increasing post-secondary enrollment for underserved students. This includes expansion of ASPIRE programs, summer and extended learning programs for struggling students, and expansion of opportunities in dual credit, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate.
HB 3233, Educator Development. This OEIB strategic initiative is designed to raise the effectiveness of educators through improvements in teacher candidate recruiting and preparation and in professional development among working educators. The bill creates the Network for Quality Teaching and Learning to strategically invest in activities such as mentoring, collaboration, Common Core implementation, and professional development models. The Legislature directed $33 million in funding to this network from the State School Fund as part of a continuous appropriation for this purpose, indexed to the SSF. The legislation authorizes 10 positions at the Department of Education dedicated to supporting educators in identifying best practices and closing the achievement gap.
HB 3120 and SB 270, Higher Education Restructuring. These bills significantly redesign and align Oregon public postsecondary governance, investment, and accountability.
HB 3120 further shapes the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) authorized by SB 242 in 2011. The HECC will be responsible for developing an integrated plan to invest state dollars in post-secondary education – community colleges, universities and need-based aid – to achieve state goals. This is the first time that state investment in community colleges, four-year institutions, and need-based student aid will reside in one authority. The HECC is also charged with examining an outcomes-based funding formula for community colleges and four-year institutions.
SB 270 authorizes independent boards for the University of Oregon and Portland State University and offers the potential for all of our universities to attain independent governance. (Oregon State University has since done that.) This provides greater flexibility to respond quickly to student needs and it increases the potential for philanthropic support for institutions.
SB 81 establishes the Oregon Promise tuition waiver program. The Legislature appropriated $10 million for this program that leverages federal funds first and uses state dollars last to ensure that students can attend community college tuition free.
SB 418 directs the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to develop an accelerated learning program and appropriates $6.8 million for that purpose. The intent of the bill is for more high school students to take courses for college credit and transition more smoothly from high school to post-secondary education.
HB 5017 appropriates money to school districts for full-day kindergarten. For the first time ever, the state school fund included $220 million for full day kindergarten for all schools in Oregon. Full day kindergarten helps close the achievement gap for English language learners, low income students and minority students.
HB 5016 appropriates money to CTE-STEM activities, HB 3072 creates the funding mechanism for various CTE-STEM activities and HB 2728 created the Oregon Talent Council. State investment in CTE-STEM nearly doubled from $17 million last biennium to $35 million for the 2015-2017 biennium. The Oregon Talent Council received $6.1 million that it will invest in university programs designed to meet industry needs and graduate more students with skills that are in high demand.