7:25 p.m. PST December 14, 2015
Gov. Kate Brown announced the creation of a new position to improve Oregon education on Monday.
The position, known as the education innovation officer, will connect with local schools and parents and help advise Brown to invest in best practices and programs in schools statewide.
The innovation officer will help implement a more balanced system of assessment, Brown said. The officer will make sure that Brown’s administration is investing in programs that foster student success.
“There is no question that our education system must be accountable for better student outcomes, including increasing our high school graduation rate,” Brown said. “We have made good progress in establishing high standards and systems to support effective teachers — because every student deserves a qualified, caring and competent teacher.
“But accountability also means ensuring that, as a state, we are empowering the best and most effective practices in our classrooms that support student success.”
Brown said the officer will require the state to continue work to make sure Oregon’s graduates have access to a variety of education and career opportunities beyond high school.
“Keeping college affordable is one way to accomplish this, but college isn’t always the right path for everyone,” she said. “We can create other pathways to student success, such as continuing to invest in career and technical education and science, technology, engineering, and math programs.”
Brown has not yet hired for the position as the final job details are solidified and posted, said Melissa Navas, a spokesperson for the governor’s office.
She said the governor plans to hire someone early in 2016. She added the officer will report to Brown and will not have an executive appointment, but will be hired as internal staff.
Toya Fick, executive director of Stand for Children Oregon, said she and her organization commend Brown for taking action immediately following the passage of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.
“Gov. Brown’s speech today shows that she understands the opportunity Oregon has to lead the nation to ensure our students receive the education they deserve,” Fick said. “She will be one of the first governors to take advantage of the new flexibility under ESSA to employ state-driven leadership that could lead to more equitable and effective policies and change the odds for Oregon students.”
Fick said there are a lot of reasons the schools need more help.
“Oregon high schools are grossly underfunded. Further, the lack of rigor and relevant coursework in Oregon high schools cripples our students’ ability to graduate on time, prepared for and with access to a successful college or career,” she said. “With that combination, it should come as no surprise that we have the fourth-lowest graduation rate in the country, despite above average student performance in earlier grades.”
She said Oregon high schools are the state’s best chance to launch students into successful lives.
“This is a great step for our state leader to take, but it’s just the beginning of the work needed to bring Oregon’s graduation rates from near bottom to the top,” she said.