DeVos visits McMinnville schools to study teaching methods
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos tours McMinnville High classes with McMinnville Superintendent Maryalice Russell on Wednesday.
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos toured McMinnville High School on Wednesday to learn about the district’s teaching practices.
DeVos said she read a news article about the McMinnville School District’s strong instructional results and she wanted to understand the methods behind them.
McMinnville exceeded state averages in overall graduation rates by 12 percent in 2016, the most recent year for data. McMinnville’s English learners beat the state average by 21 percent. McMinnville, where about 65 percent of high school students are economically disadvantaged, also beat Oregon averages on state assessment tests in English, math and science.
DeVos observed one of McMinnville’s teacher training sessions. McMinnville has teacher training sessions every Wednesday, and teachers attend one every other week. Teachers talk about research-based methods for education and specific strategies that are working in their classrooms. They share ideas and insights.
DeVos then visited three classrooms for 10 minutes each to see how the strategies worked in practice.
“I think it’s fabulous,” DeVos said after the tour. “I hope that more schools, more teachers can emulate that process.”
McMinnville Superintendent Maryalice Russell says a big part of the district’s success lies in making sure all administrators are trained on teaching methods.
“Being able to recognize good instruction and then talk about it is crucial,” she said.
McMinnville schools and staff have won a number of awards in recent years. Consistent goal setting by the school board is a factor in the district’s sustained success, Russell said.
Protesters lined the sidewalk to the west of the high school before the event, with signs showing support for public education. Around the country, DeVos has drawn protesters who say her support for charter schools and vouchers undermines public education.
DeVos also was scheduled to tour McMinnville’s Engineering and Aerospace Sciences Academy at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. The visit to EASA, as well as a dinner to follow, were closed to the media. She will be traveling to San Jose, Calif., and Seattle next.