Oregon fails its children. You can help them succeed.

Betsy Hammond in the Oregonian:

Oregon has the fourth-worst high school graduation rate in the nation, according to the federal government’s most accurate state-by-state report on the topic.

Just 68 percent of Oregon high school students in the class of 2011 earned a diploma in four years, according to data released Monday.

At Springfield High School, three miles from UO, that rate is just 60%. If you are a UO professor, volunteer to join the SAIL program at sail.uoregon.edu. We know how to get these kids on the college track, we’ve got the results to prove it, and we know how to effectively use your abilities as a college professor to expand the program to more students. We have started a new SAIL program at PSU, with the same goal, and we can use more volunteers there as well. We have also received lots of invaluable help from UO staff and OAs, and from UO students volunteering as mentors, and we welcome more. Thanks! 11/28/2012.

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14 Responses to Oregon fails its children. You can help them succeed.

  1. Raghu Parthasarathy says:

    A very short reply: SAIL is great.

    A slightly longer reply: I’ve been the faculty co-organizer of the Physics + Human Physiology SAIL “camp” for the past five years. Like all of the (several) SAIL programs it spans one week during the summer, and consists of activities, lab tours, short talks, etc., that are organized and run by faculty and / or graduate students. So the level of volunteering can be as little as designing and implementing one one-hour activity — ideally something interactive / engaging. Of course it can be more, as well. One particularly nice thing about SAIL is that it has an excellent staff person who takes care of all logistical issues (e.g. food, communication with parents), tracking students, etc.

    Despite the fact that middle / high school students are probably the lowest on my list of age groups I’d like to hang around with, I’ve enjoyed my involvement with SAIL tremendously — doing interesting activities with students who are quite consistently enthusiastic and interactive is fun, and it seems to have a strong impact on the kids. Additional information is at http://sail.uoregon.edu/ . My own poorly maintained page is http://physics.uoregon.edu/~raghu/TeachingFiles/SAIL/SAIL.html ; it includes schedules from the past years. I’d be happy to comment further, as I’m sure others would be as well. (Try the ‘contact us’ page on http://sail.uoregon.edu ). Despite the consistent increase in the size of SAIL, there is a strong demand for more capacity!

    • UO Matters says:

      Thanks Raghu! I like to tell people “surely there’s something about your work that would interest HS kids for 50 minutes”. And that’s all it takes to help out. Maybe go to lunch with the students too. We’ll buy.

      One of our students won a full ride 4 year Gates Scholarship last year, and used it to come to UO. Another one is at UO and working in my lab now. We give some small scholarships from donations by a very lovely UO Alum, Shirley Rippey. Some start out at LCC.

      The idea of the camp is that these kids don’t think about going to college because they have no idea what it’s about. They don’t have role models who have graduated from college. None of their friends talk about it.After a week of meeting faculty they realize there’s nothing scary about (most) professors. I think the biggest reason for our success is that they come back to campus every summer and by the second camp they think of themselves as college students who haven’t started college yet.

      We pressure them to take the HS college prep classes and we send out UO undergrads to tutor them. So when they are seniors they are ready, and their logical next step is to just apply and go.

    • Anonymous says:

      Any use for a Special Collections librarian as a volunteer? I’m sure we have something in our collections that would interest HS/Jr HS students.

    • UO Matters says:

      We’d love this! Please email me at uomatters at gmail.com.

      BTW we just heard that we have 7 students from this year’s finishing cohort applying to UO, one has already been accepted through early admission. Not yet sure about the total number applying to colleges.

      Dates this coming year:

      SAIL summer camps are one-week day camps that run from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm Monday – Friday, and are held on the University of Oregon’s beautiful campus. SAIL camps are progressive, offering exposure to new academic fields each summer as students go through high school. Upon graduation students are encouraged to apply as SAIL camp staff and mentors.

      Summer 2013

      July 22nd – 26th, 2013: incoming high school Juniors and Seniors

      July 29th – Aug. 2nd,2013: incoming high Freshman and Sophomores

  2. Anonymous says:

    Can you say something about what is expected of a SAIL volunteer? For example:

    – How many weeks’ commitment is required, and how many hours per day?
    – Do volunteers need to design their own courses, or do you have set courses for volunteers to teach?

    I am a faculty member in the math department, and I’ve never taught a class below the level of calculus. I’m interested in helping out a little bit, but I’m not willing to commit to designing an entire course for underprivileged high school students from scratch.

    • Unknown says:

      Contact Lara Fernandez at laraf@uoregon.edu for more info. You would be greatly appreciated! I’m a SAIL grad, I loved the program, and all faculty/ staff involved are welcome and have been fabulous. I’m also from the above mentioned Springfield High School, with the low grad rate, and I made it to UO.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I can’t answer the question, but I might point out that here in Oregon we don’t currently even have K, much less pre-K. Kindergarten these days lasts about 2.5 hrs/day–just long enough to acclimatize all kids to school itself, so that they’re better prepared to succeed in 1st grade, but not enough to teach them more than ABC and 1-30. We are way way behind.

    • Anonymous says:

      4J assumes that kids do not know their ABCs at the beginning of 1st grade, so begins that year with “A,” literally. Sad.

  4. Anas clypeata says:

    I wonder if any of the commenters here can offer informed opinions about universal public pre-kindergarten and its benefits to individual students and the public at large.

    There have been a couple of recent Planet Money and This American Life podcasts about states with universal public pre-K, and it sounds like a panacea. Is there a valid contrarian point of view? Is the only reason we don’t have it that people are short-term thinkers and don’t like to pay a buck now for something with 20 bucks in benefit down the road?

    • Anonymous says:

      Most of the evidenced “benefits” of early educative participation are fraught with identification problems… when it is not “universal,” separating out the parent effect is an obvious one, as take up tends to be higher among well-informed, educated, education-valuing parents. It confounds the true effect of early education, making the true causal effect a difficult parameter to recover. Yet, these estimates are often used to support the universal offering of pre-k. (Granted, the same could be said of mandatory ages, which there is also a literature on in economics, where more care is taken to identify causal effects.)

      On the broad issue, this paper is the first that came to mind… following up on it’s citations should put you in the right ball park.


    • Anonymous says:

      Dog’s uninformed opinion

      I have been involved in K12 teacher professional development (PD) for more than 20 years (its a funding sideshow for me). My observations through this time period are the following:

      1) things are not badly broken at the K-5 level
      2) Middle school curriculum as significantly improved in my experience – it just to be dismal, now its a bit more relevant and engaging and teachers seem to be more engage with teaching that age group.

      Hence, the likely problem must be in High School. While there are a myriad of reasons why this might be (and I could be wrong that is High School), over the last 10 years my observations (and this includes significant but failed interaction with the Oregon Dept. of Education) is that many high school students simply find that the current curriculum
      is largely irrelevant to their perceived real life. Now it matters little that they are not mature enough to know what is relevant, they are still dropping out.


      contains the raw data on this.

      I can relate some anecdotes.

      1. Astoria High School – we have worked with them, very bad teacher morale, very bad facilities. Grad rate 60%

      2. Canby – Grad rate 83% – very supportive superintendent and central office – this is important!

      3. Lake Oswego/Lakeridge – grad rate 92% – abundant resources

      4. Seaside – enthusiastic teacher poor resources – 69%

      5. Tillamook – enthusiastic teacher poor resources – but
      has good community support and after school activities – 76%

      finally, the richest school on this list is likely Westview
      and their rate is 82%

      so to me, in high school, resources per student, superintendent engagement and teacher morale are the
      prime variables.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m not economist, but the guy who wrote this report is:

      I hear he even knows a thing or two about identification problems.

    • UO Matters says:

      Someone ought to invite Heckman to UO to give a lecture on this!

    • Anonymous says:

      Heckman visit being arranged.

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