• Oregon has laid out an ambitious long-term vision and has incorporated stakeholder feedback and input throughout its plan.


  • The equity lens that is described appears to be thoughtful, detailed, and appropriate.


  • Oregon also places emphasis on growth in its school rankings, and it is trying to emphasize early learning, for example in its exploration and development of social-emotional learning standards for kindergartners, as well as the focus on culturally relevant pedagogy.


  • The state has articulated strategies for identifying and counting subgroups of students, although it is still unclear how they will actually be incorporated into the state’s rating system.


  • The state identifies school districts as the agent of change throughout the plan and provides a clear theory of action for districts.




  • Despite articulating a deep commitment and priority for advancing equity, Oregon’s plan does not clearly identify the state role or strategy for advancing it through objective statewide expectations and criteria.


  • While Oregon’s description of the indicators in its accountability system is clear, it is not apparent how the indicators, weights, and subgroup performance are combined to identify schools.


  • In particular, the state doesn’t clearly define consistently underperforming subgroups, or how schools with low-performing groups will be identified annually for targeted support.


  • Oregon’s plan also does not contain any indication of the kinds of interventions or evidence-based practices it imagines will support its low-performing schools. The implementation section references “leveraging state-sponsored and evidence-based system initiatives,” but the theory of action underlying state-supported intervention is not articulated.


  • In addition, Oregon has not clearly identified concrete criteria for low-performing schools to exit improvement status.


Click through the tabs on the left to see how Oregon scored in each category.



Oregon has a clear vision – but has not paired it with interim, aligned benchmarks.


Oregon’s plan opens with a description of the state’s 40/40/20 vision, which articulates the percentage of students who will hold a bachelor’s, associate, and high school diploma by 2025. This is a clear, ambitious vision, but Oregon has not paired it with interim, aligned benchmarks for which the K-12 system can hold itself accountable.


The state has set ambitious long-term goals for achievement in English language arts and math.


By 2025, it expects 80 percent of students will score at college or career ready on the Smarter Balanced in ELA and math. This nine-year time frame is ambitious, but it isn’t clear how it aligns with the state’s 40/40/20 vision, or if it’s even feasible. Oregon’s baseline data suggest these goals may be overly ambitious even for the “all students” group where meeting the goals requires a 26-percentage-point increase in ELA and almost doubling of the current proficiency rate in math, let alone for lower-performing groups.


For high school graduation, Oregon’s goal is 90 percent for the four-year cohort graduation rate by 2025. The state believes some students will take longer than four years to graduate, while others will earn an “alternative diploma.” This is still an ambitious goal that requires a steady increase of about 2 percentage points a year for the “all students” group and a greater annual increase for some subgroups. Oregon’s long-term goals and interim measures are appropriately rigorous for extended-year graduation rates — 93 percent of students graduating in five years by 2025.


Oregon is waiting for more current data on English language proficiency, and in the meantime has provided placeholder goals that it plans to update in the near future.



Oregon has high standards and an aligned assessment.


Oregon has put in place strong college- and career-ready standards based on the Common Core State Standards and is using Smarter Balanced as its statewide assessment system in English language arts and math in grades 3-8 and high school. Additionally, the state is developing a new science assessment aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).


Oregon will offer districts a choice of nationally-recognized high school tests.


Oregon must consider how it will accomplish this while staying true to its values around equity, as well as ESSA’s statutory requirements. The state does not describe how it will identify the high school assessment(s) for districts, though the plan does include several key principles to maintain quality (standards alignment, reliability and validity, comparability, accommodations and accessibility).


While this could be helpful in improving participation and investment in the state testing program on the part of high school students and their parents, the state should resolve these technical issues before going down this path.


Lastly, Oregon should strengthen its plan by ensuring that it has a process in place to meet the 1 percent cap on alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.



Oregon proposes to use a simple list of clearly defined, high-quality indicators.


The state has proposed using academic achievement, progress, graduation rate, English proficiency, and school quality, which includes chronic absenteeism, freshmen on-track, and a five-year high school completion rate. Each of these measures is clearly defined in the plan.


The state could better align its K-12 accountability goals around its college completion goal.


Given Oregon’s focus on ensuring all students graduate from high school, the state may want to reconsider the use of GEDs in its five-year completion rate, or assign graded weights for stronger outcomes. Since the state has articulated goals around college completion, the state could better align its K-12 accountability system with this goal by adding measures of postsecondary success (enrollment, remediation rates, etc.).


Similarly, Oregon is missing an opportunity to include measures of college and career readiness, such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, dual enrollment, or industry credentials. Those types of indicators can push high schools to increase rigor and equity in courses offered and would help align schools toward the state’s vision.


Oregon’s willingness to include science is a positive.


The plan notes that some workgroup members and stakeholders wanted results on the statewide science assessment to be included as an accountability indicator but that, since Oregon is developing a new science assessment to align with NGSS, the state won’t make a decision until a future date.




Oregon’s plan places a strong weight on student achievement and growth.


It proposes to include a simple measure of student achievement and a normative growth model. The state plans to give more weight to academic growth (44 percent of a school’s rating) than academic proficiency (22 percent) in the accountability system. The growth measure applies only to elementary and middle schools.


Oregon’s growth model – Student Growth Percentiles (SGP) – compares the progress students make against their similarly performing peers. However, this does not ensure students cover the content they need to master to stay on track toward mastery at graduation. Oregon deserves credit for pairing this type of growth model with a clean measure of achievement, but placing such a strong weight on SGP scores could dilute the benefits of having strong state standards if they play a much smaller part in school ratings.


Oregon will use two indicators for English learner progress toward proficiency.


One will measure the percentage of English learners on track to English proficiency, and the other will measure growth as measured by median growth percentiles. Depending on the student, Oregon set English-language proficiency targets of up to seven or eight years, which sets a low bar for exiting English-learning students.



Oregon has laid out its process for identifying schools with low-performing subgroups of students.


It identifies 11 unique student groups for accountability and is to be commended for reducing the subgroup threshold from 40 to 20 students for the ESSA accountability system. Oregon should also be commended for including data analysis that shows the effect of using different n-sizes (30 vs. 20) on the inclusion of key subgroups in the accountability system.


Oregon is also committed to using three years of data for accountability purposes, which will help lower the number of students needed to meet the n-size of 20 (as only seven students in a given subgroup would be needed in each of the three data years). This is a helpful practice to increase year-to-year stability of each school’s results and build in extra subgroup accountability, and it’s one that other states could consider.


Oregon has a plan for when a school’s groups of students do not meet the state’s minimum threshold.


Oregon will continue to rely on a “combined underserved race/ethnicity” subgroup when any given school’s groups do not meet the state’s minimum threshold on its own. Even with an n-size of 20, some of the state’s smaller subgroups would be underreported individually and not emphasized in the accountability system.


By creating the combined subgroup, Oregon states that it has ensured that at least 98 percent of each of these groups will be captured in some way. Oregon should be commended for its attempts to include these students, but, given the different needs of each of these subgroups of students, the state should clearly articulate how it will target interventions accordingly. Additionally, the state may consider if this same result would have been accomplished by lowering the n-size to 15 or 10.


Oregon will include students exiting from students with disabilities and English learner groups as part of each subgroup.


The state has chosen to include students in the students with disabilities group who have been exited from special education in the previous two years and students previously identified as English learners as part of the English learner student group for an additional four years after being exited. These choices will inflate the scores for these groups and lessen the focus on students continuing to receive services, and the students-with-disabilities idea in particular may violate federal requirements. Oregon could instead create an additional subgroup made up of exited students, which would mitigate potential unintended consequences and further masking of these important subgroups.


Oregon’s plan for identifying schools lacks detail.


Oregon will use overall performance levels to identify schools in need of comprehensive and targeted support and improvement. Any school with at least one low-performing subgroup will be identified for targeted support, and any Title I school with a subgroup that has underperformed for three or more years will be identified for comprehensive support.


While these definitions may meet the letter of the law, Oregon has left in too many unknowns to determine how this will actually play out. It has not defined what level of performance would qualify a school for each category, nor has it provided data suggesting how many schools might fall into each category.



Oregon’s process for identifying schools is unclear and complicated.


The state will provide schools with a Level 1-5 designation on each indicator based on meeting goals and interim targets, but it does not describe what those goals and interim targets are for English-language proficiency, growth, or school-quality/student-success indicators.


Given all these uncertainties, it’s difficult to determine how many schools Oregon will identify for additional supports. It’s also concerning that Oregon doesn’t appear to identify schools with consistently underperforming subgroups annually for targeted support and improvement, nor does it clearly define what constitutes a consistently underperforming subgroup.


Oregon’s weighting of indicators is uneven across grade levels.  


The balance between academic and school-quality or student-success indicators makes sense in elementary and middle school, where academic indicators clearly receive “much greater” weight, as required by ESSA. However, in high school, academic achievement is weighted less than the school-quality or student-success indicators. Once final assessment decisions are made at the high school level, the state may want to consider a growth component at the high school level.



Oregon’s plan emphasizes district responsibility to support local school improvement.


However, the strategies for doing so in the plan focus mostly on process — such as comprehensive needs assessments, self-evaluations, and tools for root-cause analysis — and less on what districts will do based on this information to adopt evidence-based interventions that will successfully turn around struggling schools.


Districts will complete a Readiness and Screening Protocol and Oregon plans to provide support and financial resources only to prioritized districts that have shown through this protocol their “readiness” for improvement. The state says that it needs to prioritize which districts get access to funds due to the state’s limited capacity.


For districts that are not considered “ready,” the state will allow them to write their own plans and implement them independently. There is no explanation as to how these districts will be encouraged to build capacity and “readiness” to gain access to additional supports and funding in future years. This could lead to districts being identified as chronically underperforming year over year, without state intervention.


The state has no concrete plan for how it will spend its 7 percent set-aside dedicated to school-improvement activities.


The state is relying on increased coaching/monitoring, professional learning, a review of district capacity, and other steps that are less intensive than what many chronically low-performing schools require.


Exiting Improvement Status


Oregon lists three exit criteria for both comprehensive and targeted support schools.


The exit criteria are: the school is not identified for supports in the next improvement cycle; the school demonstrates “improved outcome (accountability) data”; and a school review by an outside review team and stakeholders confirms the school has improved its systems. While these could potentially be a useful set of indicators, the state does not provide further detail on what exactly they would mean or how they will be meaningful to schools.


The state doesn’t differentiate its exit criteria for its comprehensive and targeted support schools.


It’s particularly problematic that the state has not set clear standards for what progress for subgroups or low-performing students would constitute sufficient improvement. To strengthen its plan and provide better signals to schools, Oregon should set clear, transparent exit criteria and tailor those based on the particular reason a school was identified for additional support in the first place.

Continuous Improvement


Oregon’s plan clearly expects schools and districts to engage in a process of continuous improvement.


The state identifies some very specific steps and timelines for districts and schools to take as part of the continuous-improvement process. The state’s role is to support schools and districts in improving, and a great deal of stakeholder engagement is built into the process.


Oregon places a big bet on the district as the unit of change.


However, the role of the state if any districts struggle is less clear. It would be helpful for Oregon to develop a regular feedback mechanism that involves key stakeholders to solicit feedback about the operation of the accountability system and identify where adjustments and revisions are needed.


Learn more about why these categories matter: