Editorial: Improvement — but not enough — in achievement compacts


Academics will have an enlarged role next year in the achievement compacts between K-12 school districts and the state.

It’s an improvement over the first year, when only third-grade reading and math were included, although we’d like to see the changes go further.

The compacts are part of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s plan to revamp education in the state. The governor’s ultimate goal is the so-called 40-40-20 plan, in which 40 percent of Oregonians would earn at least a bachelor’s degree, another 40 percent an associate degree or other post-secondary credential, and the remaining 20 percent would have a high school degree.

The compacts are agreements between school districts and the state, setting goals for specific criteria. The state establishes a base set of items, and districts can add some of their own choosing. Separate compacts are made between the state and other educational entities, such as universities and community colleges.

When the first-year compacts were unveiled nearly a year ago, we were disappointed at the limited focus on academic proficiency.

For the second year, the Oregon Education Investment Board decided Tuesday to preserve third-grade reading results and to add math results from fifth and eighth grades. Third-grade math will be removed.

OEIB policy adviser Whitney Grubbs said educators felt a higher-level math measure was needed. She said math is less meaningful at third grade, where reading is the critical benchmark.

Additional changes altered the way ninth-grade attendance and credits are listed and removed one of several measures of graduation rates.

Grubbs said the changes were chosen from a longer list of recommendations suggested jointly by the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators, the Oregon School Boards Association and the Oregon Education Association.

The changes are a step in the right direction, but additional test results from all grades — especially high school — are needed in the compacts. Without them, we’re at risk of granting degrees without sufficient attention to the student knowledge base that justifies them.