The 2013 Oregon Legislature was a landmark for kindergarten through high school education. For a change, the level of K-12 funding was adequate. But the lawmakers went beyond that to fund some innovations that will improve student outcomes.

A reliable indicator of the Legislature’s success was the Chalkboard Project’s agenda, which was largely enacted. This consortium of regional foundations and charitable trusts has been around for almost 10 years. Chalkboard Executive Director Sue Hildick said this was an excellent session.

By gathering research and conducting pilot projects in school districts such as Tillamook – where classroom innovations have led to student performance that was well beyond the state average – Chalkboard has given lawmakers a roadmap for how to improve student performance. Its agenda has included teacher preparation, mentoring of new teachers, teacher professional development and teacher evaluation.

One key to the success of these innovations has been the cooperation of the teachers union, the Oregon Education Association.

Astoria School District has taken advantage of the new mentoring program. Superintendent Craig Hoppes says that, “We’ve taken Chalkboard’s work and made it our own.” Astoria is revising and implementing its new teacher and administration program.

Praise for the session’s education outcome is incomplete without mention of Gov. John Kitzhaber. He embraced Chalkboard’s goals as no other governor has. And Oregon’s brief education CEO Rudy Crew urged Kitzhaber to fund projects statewide and not piecemeal.

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