District goals get new, clear approach.Byline: Anne Williams The Register-Guard
As lofty as they sound, a school board's "annual goals" seldom make much of a ripple.
Typically compiled each summer or fall, using the previous year's as a template (1) A pre-designed document or data file formatted for common purposes such as a fax, invoice or business letter. If the document contains an automated process, such as a word processing macro or spreadsheet formula, then the programming is already written and embedded in the , such goals tend to be things most anyone would agree a school district should do, such as raising achievement among all students and ensuring graduates are well-prepared for college or careers. Often, a board will outline steps the district will take to reach them.
Hardly the stuff of heated debate.
This year, though, the Eugene School District Eugene School District (4J) is a public school district in the U.S. state of Oregon. It serves the city of Eugene Elementary schools
The shift makes the goals less about activities than about outcomes, Superintendent George Russell For other persons named George Russell, see George Russell (disambiguation).
George Allen Russell (born June 23, 1923) is an American jazz pianist, composer and theorist. explained.
Russell wants it to convey a sense of urgency, both to district employees and to the community.
"Really, it's about trying to be a little more aspirational in terms of the goals and what we'd like to see happen, to tell us whether we're successful in doing the things we want to do," he said.
Though he'd talked about the change with the board last spring, Russell made his formal pitch in mid-September, bringing forward a draft and slide presentation. Despite years of discussion, commitment and even targeted initiatives, he said, there's been scant scant
adj. scant·er, scant·est
1. Barely sufficient: paid scant attention to the lecture.
2. Falling short of a specific measure: a scant cup of sugar. progress in narrowing the achievement gap that separates students by race/ethnicity, English ability and socioeconomic status socioeconomic status,
n the position of an individual on a socio-economic scale that measures such factors as education, income, type of occupation, place of residence, and in some populations, ethnicity and religion. - and grows wider as students advance.
For instance, the one-year dropout (1) On magnetic media, a bit that has lost its strength due to a surface defect or recording malfunction. If the bit is in an audio or video file, it might be detected by the error correction circuitry and either corrected or not, but if not, it is often not noticed by the human rate in 2005-06 - the latest year for which data are available - was 1.8 percent for whites, 0.7 percent for Asians, 2.7 percent for blacks, 4.9 percent for American Indians American Indians: see Americas, antiquity and prehistory of the; Natives, Middle American; Natives, North American; Natives, South American. and 5.5 percent for Hispanics.
Nor, Russell said, has the district come close to achieving proportionality between its increasingly diverse student body and its teaching force. Only 6 percent of licensed staff are nonwhite non·white
A person who is not white.
nonwhite adj. , but nearly 23 percent of students are. Many educators agree that, when students of color not of the white race; - commonly meaning, esp. in the United States, of negro blood, pure or mixed.
See also: Color see teachers who look like them, it can convey a powerful message that helps them succeed.
"Now, all of these goals are probably stretching a bit, and probably there are folks who will say we can't do that, and they may be right," Russell told the board that night. "But I'd say if we don't try, there's no way we will."
Over the course of that and several more meetings, the board refined the goals. Several "key results" sparked discussion, including improving the graduation rate by 50 percent by 2013-14.
"Part of the balancing act is this direction is really different than where we've been before," board Chairman Charles Martinez said during Wednesday's discussion, noting that it's easier to point to incremental Additional or increased growth, bulk, quantity, number, or value; enlarged.
Incremental cost is additional or increased cost of an item or service apart from its actual cost. success when goals are less precise.
Concerns - some echoed by building principals - include new diploma DIPLOMA. An instrument of writing, executed by, a corporation or society, certifying that a certain person therein named is entitled to a certain distinction therein mentioned.
2. requirements being phased in during the next six years and pending changes to the formula the state uses to calculate graduation rates, which are widely expected to reflect a more accurate and lower rate.
"I did raise some concerns," said Churchill High School Principal Dennis Biggerstaff, who represents high school principals at Russell's weekly cabinet meetings.
"The state has been instituting more challenging graduation requirements culminating in 2014, and the ones we're most concerned about right now are the `essential skills' requirements that start with this year's freshmen."
The various allowable means for demonstrating those skills - reading, math, writing and speaking - aren't yet completely clear, Biggerstaff said, although students will be able to meet most of them by passing the 10th-grade Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. That would be a tall order, though, given that two-thirds or fewer pass the OAKS exams now.
The board agreed to be clear that the district would apply the same graduation rate formula across the board when comparing rates, to ensure fair comparisons.
Despite some leeriness, Biggerstaff called the board's willingness to get specific "laudable laud·a·ble
Healthy; favorable. ."
"Sometimes I think these goals are so broad, it's hard for people to feel impacted by them or really get behind them," he said.
Russell said some of his motivation came from the Executive Education Leadership Program at Harvard University Harvard University, mainly at Cambridge, Mass., including Harvard College, the oldest American college. Harvard College
Harvard College, originally for men, was founded in 1636 with a grant from the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. , which the district has participated in through a grant from the Wallace Foundation.
Shannon Priem, communications officer for the Oregon School Boards Association, said Eugene is following a national trend, with boards holding themselves and their superintendents more accountable for progress in their schools.
"It's getting more common for boards to ask for measurable outcomes, partly because more and more they have access to better data," she said. "Then it becomes the administrator's role to figure out how we're going to get there."
Among the "key results" included in the Eugene School Board's 2008-09 goals:
By 2012-13, the overall percentage of students who meet state testing benchmarks in reading and math will increase to 90 percent and 85 percent, respectively (up from 80 percent and 76 percent currently), and gaps for racial/ethnic subgroups - blacks, Hispanics and American Indians - will be half of the current 10 percent to 20 percent
By 2013-14, the overall graduation rate will improve by 50 percent, based on the formula used for calculating the rate for the current year, with rates for black, Hispanic and American Indian American Indian
or Native American or Amerindian or indigenous American
Any member of the various aboriginal peoples of the Western Hemisphere, with the exception of the Eskimos (Inuit) and the Aleuts. students increasing at an accelerated rate to narrow the achievement gap
By 2012-13, the district will increase the representation of minority teachers to 10 percent of licensed staff, up from 6 percent
The district will renew the local option levy to maintain local support of district programs and services through 2015-16 with at least a 65 percent yes vote on Nov. 4