Public Education

Wallowa High School building made of red brick
Wallowa High School in Wallowa. (Oregon State Archives Photo)

Important Web links


Source: Oregon Chief Education Office
Education is critical to ensuring that every Oregonian is prepared for success in a global economy, has economic security, and has the ability to provide for themselves and their families. Education promotes shared values, enriches culture and expands the vitality of individuals and communities. When delivered equitably, education provides opportunity for every Oregonian no matter their race, home language, disability, family income or zip code. Never before has a high-quality education been more important to the lives and well-being of individuals and our communities.
Senate Bill 253 (2011) established the mission of Oregon’s education system to achieve key goals for high school and college completion and career readiness. Under these goals, known as “40-40-20,” Oregon aspires to achieve the following by 2025:

• 40% of adult Oregonians will have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher,
• 40% will have earned an associate’s degree or postsecondary credential as their highest level of education attainment, and
• 20% will have earned at least a high school diploma, an extended or modified high school diploma, or the equivalent of a high school diploma as their highest level of education attainment. These goals reflect a shared commitment by the state and education groups to create the conditions to ensure each young person has access and opportunities throughout their education to thrive and to pursue an education and career path meaningful to them.

To put this commitment into operation, education agencies that serve students from cradle to career have adopted an “Equity Lens” to guide policy making, investment recommendations, program development, and community engagement. The Equity Lens expresses shared values that recognize the unique assets, contributions and capabilities of individual students. It also underscores the importance of working closely with communities to develop strategies and a network of supports for students and their families.

Chief Education Office

Senate Bill 215 (2015) created the Chief Education Office (CEdO) for the purpose of building a seamless system of education from birth to college and career. The CEdO uses both directing authority and coordinating capacity to lead cross-sector, multi-agency planning and stakeholder convening to eliminate barriers impeding student success, ensuring educational equity and opportunity within all education settings, and achieving statewide goals and student learning outcomes.
The CEdO brings strategic leadership and coordination to key student transition points and other critical areas across the education continuum to improve outcomes for Oregon students, grow the capacity of systems to serve student success, expand pathways of learning, ensure a well-supported, culturally responsive education workforce, and elevate policies and practices to accelerate student learning outcomes through convening, research, and partnerships with educational groups and communities.
The CEdO’s focus is to foster stronger connections and alignment from early learning to kindergarten through twelvth grade education, and K–12 education to higher education and the workforce. In doing so, the agency expands student access and opportunity and provides each individual a seamless pathway of learning, with a particular focus on traditionally underserved students and students in poverty. 
In 2015, Governor Kate Brown outlined her vision to improve the number of students who complete high school with a plan for their future. Realizing this vision requires a long-term commitment by the state’s education system to prioritize equitable access to opportunities and supports that foster success for every student throughout the continuum of their educations.
With a four-year high school graduation rate of 74%, Governor Brown has identified improving graduation outcomes as her top education priority. Governor Brown charged the CEdO with engaging with school districts and communities to identify and scale up effective practices and make policy recommendations to ensure more students graduate high school with a plan for their future.
In the 2015–2017 biennium, Governor Brown and legislators prioritized a series of investments designed to improve access and opportunities for the youngest Oregonians and students pursuing a college education or exploring a career. These “wrap-around” investments included resources to establish all-day kindergarten at every school in the state; more than $130 million to expand access to early learning and preschool programs for families who could not have previously afforded them; a near doubling of investments in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and Career and Technical Education programs to help engage students in hands-on learning and prepare them for future careers; the creation of the Oregon Promise program that can provide two years of community college tuition at no cost to qualifying high school graduates; and the expansion of the Oregon Opportunity Grant to an additional 16,000 college and university students. 
The education system operating in isolation cannot affect the changes necessary to improve student outcomes. Partnerships with communities and groups that span education, health, social service and workforce are critical to successfully expanding student opportunities and putting them on a path towards employment, job training, or post-secondary education. 
The CEdO has coordinating oversight of all state education agencies, including:
The Oregon Early Learning Division (ELD), established within the Department of Education, is charged with coordinating service delivery systems to improve kindergarten readiness for the 190,294 children who are newborn to six years old across Oregon.

The Department of Education (ODE) develops statewide policy and programs, and allocates resources for 576,407 students in Oregon’s public K–12 system. ODE is in charge of public preschool programs through its Early Learning Division. It also oversees the Oregon School for the Deaf, regional programs for children with disabilities, and other out-of-school-time educational programs through its Youth Development Division.
The Youth Development Division (YDD), established within ODE, is charged with developing state-level policy and administering funding to support community-based youth development programs, services and initiatives that support educational success, focus on crime prevention, reduce high-risk behaviors, and are integrated, measurable and accountable. The division plays an important role in supporting young people ages 16 to 24 who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor force by helping them get back on the path to college and/or career.

The Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) was first convened in 2011, and the Legislature established HECC as an agency in 2013 by consolidating existing authorities that were spread across multiple agencies and boards. HECC is the single state entity responsible for ensuring pathways to higher education success statewide and serves as point of coordination for institutions and partners working across the public and private higher education arena. The governance of Oregon’s public community colleges and universities is the responsibility of their respective governing boards. In September 2015, about 290,000 students were enrolled in Oregon’s 17 public community colleges and seven public universities.

Education Funding

2015 funding by source- 95% general fund, 4.9% lottery fund, and .1% other funds

2015–2017 Legislatively Approved K–12 Funding by Source

Source: Legislative Fiscal Office

Education-related investments span early learning through higher education and include a range of services, from youth corrections education and Career and Technical Education, to strategic investments designed to support and create opportunities for Oregon’s historically underserved students and communities. 
Early Learning: The Early Learning Division funds preschools, home visiting, relief nurseries, Early Learning Hubs and other programs for children under the age of five and their families. The Division is also responsible for licensing and monitoring child care programs, as well as providing other supports to child care programs and the early learning workforce. The Early Learning Division’s budget for the 2015–2017 biennium is $405.8 million, of which $233.3 million are General Fund dollars. Most of the rest of the funding is federal, the large source of which is the Child Care Development Fund.
Kindergarten through 12th Grade: In 1991, the Legislature established a school funding equalization formula to fund K–12 schools. That funding formula, largely based on student enrollment numbers and student demographics, determines how much funding school districts receive from the State School Fund calibrated to the district’s local revenue to fill the gap between the district’s local revenue.
For the 2015–2016 school year, the State School Fund is providing $5.4 billion to support 576,407 students in 1,239 schools, 197 school districts, and Oregon’s 19 education service districts. Of the $5.4 billion in the State School Fund, $3.6 billion is derived from state revenues, comprised of income tax and lottery revenues. The remaining nearly $1.8 billion is considered local revenues and are primarily received from property taxes. Federal and other funds provide a little more than a billion dollars in additional resources for schools.
Higher Education: The primary sources of fundiung for Oregon’s public universities and community college are tuition and fees, state funding and other funds. Today, tuition and fees account for a higher percentage of total revenue than the other sources. For 2015–2017, the state increased the investment in Oregon’s public universities and community colleges after years of underfunding, supporting the state’s strategic focus on student success outcomes.
Community College Support Fund (CCSF) is the primary source of state funding supporting educational and operational expenses at Oregon’s 17 community colleges. The CCSF is distributed using a formula that aims for equitable distribution of public resources per student, taking into account both CCSF and local property tax dollars. This fund provides investment in a range of educational activities, including associate degrees, transferable postsecondary undergraduate coursework, career and technical education, college credit in high school, adult basic education, literacy and local workforce training. The CCSF for 2015–2017 was $550 million.
The primary sources of state funding for seven public universities’ educational, public and research missions are the Public University Support Fund (PUSF), the Sports Action Lottery program, Public University Statewide and State Programs, as well as through financing of capital projects. The PUSF, which totaled $665 million in 2015–2017, is distributed by the Student Success and Completion Model, a distribution formula focused on completions and student support, among other state priorities.

2015 general and lottery funds broken down- 38.7% for K-12 education, 12.9% for all other education, 25.9% for human services

2015–2017 General Fund and Lottery Funds

Total: $19 Billion; Total Education: $9.8 Billion

Source: Legislative Fiscal Office

Early Learning in Oregon

The 2011 Legislature created the Early Learning Council (ELC), a governor-appointed policy and rulemaking body charged with creating a more coordinated service delivery system that improves kindergarten readiness and ensures that children up to six years old have the holistic supports so critical to educational success. In 2013, the Legislature formed the Early Learning Division to carry out this work overseen by the council. The division also includes the Office of Child Care. 
The division’s priorities include ensuring quality early learning environments through the implementation of the Quality Rating Improvement System; improving early literacy; increasing alignment between early childhood education and early elementary education; increasing alignment between early childhood education and health care; and providing early learning services to families through home visiting (Healthy Families Oregon and Early Head Start), respite care (Oregon Relief Nurseries) and high quality pre-school (Oregon Pre-Kindergarten Program).
The division is also responsible for implementing Early Learning Hubs — Oregon’s community-based service delivery system for young children and their families — across the state.
The ELC, a 17-member, volunteer board, oversees early learning policy for the state and provides strategic direction to the division.

K–12 Education in Oregon

In the 2015–2016 school year, there were 576,407 students in Oregon’s public K–12 schools. There are more than 29,000 teachers working in close to 1,250 public schools in 197 school districts, led by locally elected school boards.
2014 K-12 Education Revenue by source- 56% state, 35.4% local, and 8.6% federal

2014–2015 Education K–12 Revenue by Source

Source: Department of Education 

Students of color represent about 35% of Oregon’s student population. About 10% of students are non-native English speakers. The most common first language for these students is Spanish, followed by Russian, Vietnamese and Chinese. Oregon students and their families speak more than 150 languages.
Over half of Oregon public school students qualify for free and reduced lunch, up 10% in the last decade. 
Oregon’s four-year high school graduation rate is 74%.
The governor serves as the superintendent of schools and appoints a deputy to lead the work of the Department of Education. In 2015, Governor Kate Brown appointed Salam Noor to serve as the Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction for K–12 education. The department works with the State Board of Education to develop policy and strategies to improve outcomes for K–12 students. 
The department and the state board help school districts achieve both local and statewide goals and priorities through strategies such as developing policies and standards, providing accurate and timely data to inform instruction, training educators to use data effectively, administering numerous state and federal grants, and sharing and helping districts implement best practices. 
The goals of the department include graduating students to be college and career ready, closing the achievement and opportunity gaps, improving teacher and administrator effectiveness, increasing performance for all schools and districts, and contributing to a strong, seamless education system from early childhood through higher education.

State Board of Education

The Oregon State Board of Education ensures every Oregon public school student has equal access to high quality educational services that promote lifelong learning and prepare them to graduate from high school with a plan for their futures, including college, work and citizenship. 
The Oregon Legislature created the Board in 1951 to oversee the state’s schools. The board sets educational policies and standards for Oregon's 197 public school districts and 20 educational service districts. All of these agencies have separate, locally-elected governing bodies responsible for transacting business within their jurisdictions. The State Board of Education is responsible for promulgating administrative rules that the Department of Education implements. 
The board is comprised of seven members appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate. Five members represent Oregon’s five congressional districts, and two members represent the state at large. Members serve four-year terms and are limited to two consecutive terms. Board members elect their chair each year. The board meets at least six times per year and their meetings are open to the public.