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Portland agrees to make big changes at Roosevelt High to get federal millions

You have to read the last paragraph to get to some good news. But then it is remarkable, putting people and principle over money.

But the news at Roosevelt High According to local source, some teachers there were recruited by the district to go to the Oregon Association of Teachers and asked to apply for the Race to the Top funds (with all the strings attached), despite the fact that the Portland Association of Teachers came out against it. The union found out about it in the newspaper.


By Betsy Hammond

All three academies at Portland's Roosevelt High made the list of Oregon's lowest-performing schools and will make big changes in return for as much as $6 million in federal turnaround funds.

Portland school district leaders have agreed to make big changes at Roosevelt High, including removing at least two of the three small school administrators this summer, in exchange for as much as $6 million in federal turnaround funds.

The money would be used to beef up offerings at the North Portland campus, such as adding a band program and more advanced courses, and to speed the transition from three separate small academies to a unified single school during 2010-11, a change that had been slated to occur in fall 2011, says Zeke Smith, chief of staff to Superintendent Carole Smith.

Today was the deadline for the 12 school districts with the 18 lowest-performing schools in Oregon to tell the state whether they would apply for federal turnaround funds or would claim they "lack capacity" to improve their problem school or schools.

Most of the low-performing schools indicated they will apply for the money, even though it comes with some very large strings attached. Most will have to remove the principal, start evaluating teachers based on their students' results and add time to the school day or school year.

In Beaverton, educators are excited at the prospect of using millions in federal funds to improve Community School -- a small alternative school that primarily serves juniors and seniors -- and to expand it to serve younger students. The school has made great gains in its graduation rate but needs to better prepare student to pass the state reading and writing tests, said Jon Bridges, Beaverton's administrator for accountability.

Other schools that will apply include Oregon City Service Learning Academy, Ontario High School and four schools in Salem-Keizer, including McKay High.

Portland decided to claim it lacked capacity to turn around BizTech, the lone academy on the Marshall High campus that made the low-performing list. Trying to make dramatic change at just one of the three academies during 2010-11, only to have the entire campus change under the high school redesign plan in fall 2011 would be "too many transitions," Zeke Smith said.

Schools are considered the lowest performing if they serve a concentration of low-income students and have chronically low reading and math scores or, for high schools, fail to graduate at least 60 percent of their students in four years.

Most schools on the list are small second-change alternative schools including Community School in Beaverton, Centennial Learning Center and North Clackamas' New Urban High.

North Clackamas leaders decided to turn down the federal funding because they don't want to interrupt the improvement already underway at New Urban by removing the principal or the teachers, said Superintendent Tim Mills.

— Betsy Hammond
The Oregonian
2010-03-18
http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2010/03/portland_agrees_to_make_big_ch.html


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