Oregon Proficiency Project: Defining Practice, Informing Policy

The Oregon Business Council and Employers for Education Excellence

In every state, including Oregon, there are new expectations for public schools. Oregon’s education leaders are focusing increasingly on improved classroom instruction as the missing link between rigorous standards and desired student outcomes. Within the permissive environment of Oregon’s education policy, proficiency-based work is gaining ground rapidly.

The two key challenges – what is proficiency-based education and how do we get more of it – were addressed by the Oregon Proficiency Project, conducted by the  Oregon Business Council (OBC) and Employers for Education Excellence (E3) and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  The work was composed of 1) intensive technical support in two pilot sites (Woodburn’s Academy of International Studies (AIS) and Beaverton’s Health and Science School (HS2), provided by the Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) at the University of Washington, 2) field research with a number of early practitioners in the state and 3) policy discussions with education leaders.

The project participants came to the shared understanding that proficiency-based education is guided by principles of student-centered teaching, standards-based achievement, ongoing assessment, engaging students’ initiative, collaborative professional learning for instructors and development of supportive instructional leadership. Students learn at their own pace –  time becomes a variable.

Key conclusions of the project are: effective instruction appears to be a vital missing link; proficiency-based education heightens teaching effectiveness; it has well defined attributes; it has potential to elevate public education performance; and it is scalable. Documents posted on this web site contain detailed information about the work that was done – structures, processes, outcomes and tools. These are posted in the belief that they will be helpful to practitioners.