State simplifies school districts’ reporting requirements
Tuesday, February 8, 2022
For years, Oregon superintendents have detailed before the Legislature the astounding number of reports, meetings, community engagements and assessments required by state and federal rules. They desperately wanted relief.
With the 2019 Student Success Act, legislators challenged the Oregon Department of Education to align the act with other programs and ease the paperwork burden.
In response, ODE has taken a giant step toward making school administrators’ lives a little less complex, and superintendents are pleased. ODE released Tuesday, Feb. 8, “Aligning for Student Success,” a new guidance that combines the engagement and reporting for six programs into one document.
School leaders and ODE say the cohesive approach placed on one timeline will lead to school districts using their grant money more effectively for students.
The resulting guidance is more than 150 pages, but it replaces hundreds of pages of separate guidances for:
High School Success (Measure 98).
The Student Investment Account within the Student Success Act.
Continuous Improvement Plans.
Career and Technical Education – Perkins V.
Every Day Matters (attendance initiative).
Early Indicator Intervention Systems.
ODE can’t wave away all the state and federal requirements, but staff have parsed the various questions to find overlap where one targeted request can serve multiple programs. The new guidance also combines engagement needs so districts can meet student, staff and public input requirements with fewer and more effective meetings while easily including public engagement on programs that didn’t require it before.
Superintendents have asked for this kind of simplification for years, said Baker School District Superintendent Mark Witty, who was involved with vetting the plan.
“It will save time,” he said. “It will streamline the process. At the end of the day, it will make it more rational.”
ODE is rolling out the guidance now, 13 months before the first reports are due, so that school districts have ample time to digest the new approach.
ODE aims for the new guidance to help school leaders think about how the six programs can intertwine for districts to get more bang for their bucks.
ODE Assistant Superintendent Scott Nine said the goal is to reduce the administrative burdens and focus on the more important work of creating better outcomes for students.
“We want to make the right work easier,” Nine said. He leads the Office of Education Innovation and Improvement, which was created to administer the Student Investment Account.
ODE’s new guidance will come with dedicated regional experts at ODE and technical assistance money for education service districts to help support Oregon’s smallest school districts.
InterMountain ESD Superintendent Mark Mulvihill also helped vet the guidance and is enthusiastic.
He said the many state and federal reporting requirements are especially burdensome for small school districts with limited administrative staff. Much of the new money approved for schools is targeted to specific outcomes and each requires a budget narrative and a report, regardless of the district’s size.
Mulvihill said the new guidance will make a positive difference for school administrators drowning in report requests. He said having one report will help administrators think about the programs holistically and “see the forest for the trees.”