The Oregon Proficiency Project is an outcome of E3's policy work over the past several years, which has included producing seven white papers that point to specific governance, curriculum, data, budget, and delivery system transformations that have the power to significantly improve the quality and productivity of public education in Oregon.
Phase 1 – 2009/2010
Phase 1 of the Oregon Proficiency Project began in May 2009 and encompassed the 2009-10 school year. Conducted by the Oregon Business Council (OBC) and E3 and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the project addressed two key challenges – what is proficiency-based education and how do we get more of it? The work was composed of 1) intensive technical support in two pilot sites (Woodburn’s Academy of International Studies (AIS) and Beaverton’s Health and Science School (HS2), provided by the Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) at the University of Washington, 2) field research with a number of early practitioners in Oregon and 3) policy discussions with education leaders.
Key conclusions of Phase 1 of the project were:
1. effective instruction appears to be a vital missing link;
2. proficiency-based education heightens teaching effectiveness;
3. it has well defined attributes; it has potential to elevate public education performance; and
4. It is scalable.
Documents posted on the CEL web site, (under Services, Oregon Proficiency Project), contain detailed information about the work that was done – structures, processes, outcomes and tools. These are posted in the belief that they will be helpful to practitioners.
Phase 2 – 2010/11
OBC/E3 carried out three primary activities in Phase 2 during the 2010/11 school year in order to capitalize on Oregon’s policy environment, continue the networks and tools built during Phase I, and serve as a bridge to larger scale implementation beyond 2011. The practitioner networks focused on exploring how to develop expertise among instructional leaders to build capacity in their schools as instructional coaches of other teachers or as principals or district leaders responsible for secondary administrators’ development.
1. Continued to develop the model of applying expertise in an embedded coaching approach. Proficiency-based education sites in three districts, the Academy for International Studies (AIS) in Woodburn District, Hillsboro High School and Century High School in Hillsboro School District, and Sunset High School in Beaverton District received site based support from the Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) at University of Washington in teaching and/or instructional leadership. All schools participated, additionally, in the instructional leadership network and/or the teacher leader network.
2. Formed and convened networks to make and assess progress toward the development and improvement of proficiency practices and support elements. High School principals and district leaders, including several from large, comprehensive high schools, formed a network and received professional development from CEL to develop skills to lead and manage the building of capacity in proficiency-based teaching and learning. In addition, teacher leaders from schools in the administrators’ network received CEL support to develop content, methods, tools and processes to implement proficiency-based teaching and learning and improve effectiveness of teachers in their schools, focusing on math and language arts.
3. Continued to expand the role of the Phase I Practitioner and Policy Panel. The Panel followed the progression of strategies and tactics pursued during Phase I:
Problem Statement --> Theory of Action --> Practice & Tools --> Policies & Systems --> Scale Implementation
Phase 3 – 2010/11
Currently the Oregon Proficiency Project is carrying out an interim phase. The goals in this phase are: 1) to conduct research with practitioners of proficiency-based education in order to explore the barriers to taking the practices to scale in schools, districts and the state; 2) to develop recommendations for removing those obstacles and/or identify incentives which can accelerate implementation; and 3) to continue the momentum established during Phase 1 and 2 with the networks of practitioners by convening them for targeted professional development opportunities provided by the Center for Educational Leadership at University of Washington. The project team will also continue to explore funding sources for the next major phase of scaling proficiency-based education in Oregon.