At our recent Hillsboro School District Safety Summit, the keynote speaker asked the crowd of school district administrators, representatives from other local school districts and law enforcement and emergency services personnel from a variety of agencies who in the audience was responsible for ensuring student safety. When just a small handful of people stood up, he asked the question again. This time, everyone in the room took to their feet.

Similarly, if I were to ask our community who is responsible for children’s education, perhaps initially only school staff members would raise their hands. If I asked again and the full intention of the question was realized, my hope is that everyone would join them.

Education is a team effort. Granted, our teachers, school support staff and principals are those most directly involved, but responsibilities lie with each and every one of us to create and support a dynamic, culturally-responsive, safe, comprehensive, engaging, high quality educational system that prepares students for their futures.

It’s worth noting that the sense of urgency to do the absolute best by every student and to give them all the tools they’ll need to be able to make choices in life is felt throughout the system. The federal “No Child Left Behind” legislation of 2001 focused national attention on the fact that it is unacceptable to simply allow a certain percentage of our students to fail, especially knowing that a disproportionate number of those students are from underserved populations: racial and ethnic minorities, students living in poverty and those whose first language is not English.

Questions that followed as an educational community were how to best realign our system and practices to ensure that all students are reaching their full potential; how to standardize efforts so they have common meaning from school to school and state to state; and how to be transparent and accountable — all in an environment of great demand and shrinking resources.

There have been many changes to the educational system over the past several years. Many states across the country, including Oregon, have adopted the Common Core State Standards to ensure that a K-12 education in one community encompasses the same elements as it would in another.

Standardized tests are becoming more rigorous to more accurately assess what students know and can do as a way to better prepare them for college and the work force.

Oregon House Bill 2220 requires schools to communicate students’ progress toward meeting grade level academic standards at least once per year.

Oregon’s school and district report cards have been redesigned to provide more information on students’ achievement and growth, and what structures are in place to generate improvements year over year.

Oregon Senate Bill 290 calls for a more rigorous teacher evaluation system that takes student achievement into account.

Hillsboro’s College and Career Pathways project is bringing businesses and higher education partners together to articulate options for students that will help them plan for their future.

These are some of the many efforts under way in Hillsboro to continuously improve our educational delivery to students, ensure we have a highly effective staff and communicate in a transparent manner with students and parents.

In just a few short days, we will welcome new kindergartners — the class of 2026! — as well as incoming seniors — the class of 2014 — and all students in between. Every day provides us the opportunity to help them learn and grow, each in their own way, on their path to becoming successful, educated young adults with a variety of options available to them. I welcome and encourage all stakeholders — students, staff, parents, community members, business leaders and higher education — to take ownership and pride in our district and help give our students the foundation they need for a bright future.

Mike Scott is superintendent of the Hillsboro School District.

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