The Oregon Department of Education has announced that the Mid-Willamette Valley Promise Consortium has received a $500,000 grant for a collaborative program that will expand the ways that high school students in Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties can earn college credit during high school. The Willamette Promise is a collaboration between Western Oregon University’s Teaching Research Institute, 20 school districts in Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties, Willamette Education Service District, Oregon Institute of Technology, Corban University, Chemeketa Community College and the South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership. This consortium will offer these opportunities to school districts serving over 77,000 students.
This model, called the Willamette Promise, is based on the Eastern Promise program and will create additional opportunities for high school students to participate in college-level classes, as well as earning college credits or certificates. The Willamette Promise was formed to create an educational environment that empowers all students to envision post-secondary and career success.
The Willamette Promise offers new pathways toward college credits. The credit awards will be proficiency-based, with professional learning communities of teachers and college staff collaborating to assure program success. High schools will direct teacher assignment and the enrollment of students in eligible coursework. Higher education will direct proficiency assessments to assure alignment of the curriculum and high academic standards.
The Willamette Promise will focus its efforts on a long term vision that includes:
- Opportunity for all students to complete up to 45 college credits in high school.
- Opportunity for all students to complete career and technical courses that lead to career pathways or certification while in high school.
- Impetus to establish a college/career going culture in area high schools that includes post-secondary and career success visions for students after they complete high school graduation.
- Commitment to form a strong regional collaboration in which both faculty and administrators from school districts and higher education work together toward achieving the 40-40-20 goal.
Willamette Promise activities will begin immediately, with grant funding supporting the program from May 2014 through June 2015. Members of the Willamette Promise have pledged to work diligently to establish these opportunities for area students and to build sustainability so that the program remains strong at the completion of the grant period.
Governor Kitzhaber has established the “40-40-20” plan of having 40 percent of Oregonians earning a four-year degree, 40 percent earning an associate’s degree or post-secondary certificate, and 20 percent earning a high school diploma or equivalent. This program will support those goals by increasing student’s chances for degree attainment by completing college courses while still in high school. It will also greatly expand the opportunities for students to complete career and technical education courses leading to industry certification and careers. These opportunities for students will come at a significant cost savings for families.
For more information contact:
Buzz Brazeau, superintendent, Central School District
Christy Perry, superintendent, Dallas School District
Jack Thompson, superintendent, Fall City School District
Robin Stoutt, superintendent, Perrydale School District
Dr. Ella Taylor, director, Teaching Research Institute, Western Oregon University