Representatives of state education and workforce agencies, public and private colleges and universities, and schools and districts came together for the first face-to-face convening of the Oregon College and Career Readiness (OR CCR) Research Alliance on November 20, 2014. Meeting in Salem at the Oregon Education Investment Board offices, the group learned about two REL Northwest research studies nearing publication and discussed possible revisions to the state’s personal learning graduation requirements that help prepare students for life after high school.
Alliance staff member Ashley Pierson provided an overview of a soon-to-be-released study on the college enrollment and persistence rates of Oregon students in rural communities. The analysis, which looks at students at all achievement levels, suggests policy and program changes that the state may wish to consider to meet the goal of having 80 percent of high school graduates earn a postsecondary degree or credential by 2025.
Another soon-to-be-released study with implications for Oregon’s ambitious college-going goals was presented by alliance lead Michelle Hodara. Her research suggests ways to reform developmental education and reduce the number of Oregon students who are required to take these “remedial,” noncredit-bearing courses in English and math.
Ben Kaufmann from Oregon Coast Community College found the study briefings relevant and helpful to his work. “I wasn’t that surprised by the findings, but it was good to see data that confirm what you already think is happening,” he observed. Referring to reports OR CCR prepared for each community college on developmental education rates, he said, “I especially appreciated seeing the information broken out by different types of colleges because we typically only deal with our own institution’s situation.”
Gene Eakin, who heads the School Counseling Program at Oregon State University’s College of Education, applauded the fact that counselors are contributing to alliance activities, particularly in the area of personal learning requirements. “We need to bring school counselors to the table in the discussion of education plans and profiles, and this is the first opportunity to do that,” he noted. He also said the alliance’s research on rural students’ challenges underscores the need for state support of placement and professional development for counselors in rural districts that often have trouble recruiting and retaining such staff.
Hilda Rosselli, OEIB Director of College and Career Readiness, closed the meeting by making connections between OEIB’s statewide initiatives and OR CCR’s work. “Everything that‘s on today’s agenda is a topic on my desktop that [OEIB] is dealing with every day,” she said.