here for PDF format
here for participants' responses to this interview.
Duncan Wyse, President of
the Oregon Business Council
Civic Caucus, 8301 Creekside Circle #920, Bloomington, MN 55437
November 11, 2011
of the discussion
All by phone: Verne Johnson (chair), Janis Clay, Paul Gilje, Jim Hetland,
Curt Johnson, Bill Kelly, Sallie Kemper, Dan Loritz, Tim McDonald,
Summary of discussion:
In this meeting, Duncan Wyse, President of the Oregon Business Council,
describes that state's recent enactment of legislation creating an
"Education Investment Board" that is charged with improving public
education outcomes through alterations in state financing. He describes
the political compromise involved in such a change, next steps toward
implementation, and the possibility of outcome-based budgeting being used
elsewhere in the state.
Welcome and introductions
- Duncan Wyse is
the President of the Oregon Business Council, a position he has held since
June 1995. The Council is a private non-profit, non-partisan organization
consisting of chief executives from some of
largest businesses. The council's function is to focus the knowledge and
resources of its members on key, long-range public policy issues facing
such as education, health care, transportation and public finance.
to joining the council, Wyse was Executive Director of the Oregon Progress
Board where he developed two reports on economic growth and indicators for
the state. He spent eight years at the California Public Utilities
Commission, serving as advisor to the President and Director for Policy
and Planning. Wyse currently serves on a number of boards including the
Oregon State Board of Education. In 2009, he was honored with the
Sustainable Business Oregon Leadership Award.
holds a Bachelor's degree from
College and a
Master's in Business Administration from Stanford University. He grew up
in Portland, and is married with three children.
During the course of the discussion the following points were raised:
thanked the Caucus members for inviting him to visit about policy with
Minnesotans. Having conducted
economic benchmarking Wyse commented that, "your state is right up toward
the top," on social and economic indicators as well as on innovations in
state policy such as the charter school law.
2011 legislation creates a
state education "Investment Board".
began by discussing the recent creation of the Oregon Education Investment
Board (OEIB) by Governor Kitzhaber and the Oregon Legislature. The OEIB,
chaired by the Governor, seeks to create a new process for paying for
public education in the state.
The enabling legislation
charged the 12-member board with overseeing a single, unified, "seamless"
public system spanning early learning through college. The board is
responsible for developing a "0-20" plan that defines learning outcomes
for students in public schools, from early, pre-kindergarten learning
through primary, secondary, and post-secondary education.
The board is also charged
with establishing a statewide database of students that provides
information regarding performance to inform policy makers, teachers, and
families about student progress. They also must create an "Early Learning
Council" to streamline and strengthen early childhood services to at-risk
Members of the board are
charged with reporting back to the legislature by December 2011, on
progress to date and on potential legislation for the 2012 legislative
seeks to change the way education is delivered
significantly changing the way education is delivered for Oregonians,"
Wyse said in describing the legislation. He characterized the board's role
as "potentially a breakthrough" in moving the state toward ambitious goals
for educating its workforce for a 21st century economy. The
bills that were passed provide an innovative framework for reworking both
the funding and the incentives of public education.
Education performance in
isn't actually as good as sometimes thought, Wyse said; the state is " in
the middle of the pack" nationally on outcome data such as test scores and
graduation rates. He noted that the state is presently relying on
institutions that were designed many decades ago for an economy that
didn't require all of the state's citizens to achieve high levels of
Wyse said, everyone in the state needs to meet high standards not only in
literacy and math, but also in problem solving. To have a well-paying job
a person needs to have a better education than many now entering the
workforce are able to demonstrate.
New models of education
are required for higher performance.
told the group that he believes it is possible for all students to meet
high standards-but to get there the state needs a new educational delivery
system with an entirely new design basis.
current system design, time is a constant. Students move through the
educational system at the same pace: one grade each year, for the most
part. In this system, some students succeed wonderfully, some do all
right, and some fail miserably and eventually drop out. That outcome is no
longer sufficient if the state is to meet its economic goals.
Instead, Wyse contends, the new design needs to treat time as variable and
learning as constant, building a seamless pathway organized around student
proficiency, not seat time. That is, students will vary in the time they
require to demonstrate certain benchmark learning goals. "You end up with
a very different conception of the education continuum."
goal is to be clear regarding learning standards, while allowing for
customization of the learning processes-creating pathways that better fit
the needs of individual students.
The government's tool for
change is financing of schools.
framers of the legislation believed that the most powerful tool the state
has is funding - and therefore the investment board is beginning to
consider the following components of a possible strategy to recommend the
Adopt ambitious outcomes for high school
and post-secondary attainment.
Provide intermediate goals along the
way, such as readiness indicators for young students, and progress for
Begin the design of a new method of
funding based on those outcomes.
Regarding the setting of standards, Wyse cited a popular belief in
national policy that great teaching requires "clarity between the student
and teacher about what needs to be learned." Therefore, Oregon's new
funding model will not only be very clear about what students are expected
to learn but also will require clear assessments that can feed into an
electronic database. Access to this data will further increase
Paying for performance
would remove the compliance culture.
over 50 percent of
Oregon's general fund
goes to education, Wyse said. This new board will be tasked with proposing
to the legislature how funds are to be distributed. The board could use
outcome grants, for example, where money goes to a school based on a
defined outcome, such as the number of students graduating from high
complying with a set curriculum would no longer be sufficient for a school
to succeed under this plan. "My vision is the compliance agencies would go
participant asked if proficiency or graduation-rate outcome goals might
cause some schools to discourage struggling students from enrolling in
order to improve the school's chances of meeting goals. Wyse answered that
while all outcome-based funding schemes have to address the possibility of
perverse incentives, "we have to trust that our teachers have the
integrity to do what is best for students."
role of the state in this scheme is to invest in defined educational
outcomes. The state doesn't run the schools Wyse said. However, by
focusing on the overall educational continuum, the board can focus
state-level resources on defining the desired outcomes, assessment
mechanisms, and payment systems for outcomes achieved. This is a new
Wyse said. It blurs the lines dramatically all the way from pre-K through
post-secondary. With these new tools, state leaders can think more
strategically about where they invest. That was almost impossible with the
It is a challenge to
enable schools to change.
participant asked Wyse what options might be available to teachers that
want to change, but are inside a district that doesn't. He responded that
there is no easy solution. This gets into the long-term governance of the
system, which is less the function of the law than is changing the
theory is that if incentives are changed radically enough then the
organizations inside the system in turn have to become self-organizing and
change in response. Gradually, he said, the state is going to change the
way money moves in order to change the incentives so that the common goal
cited the English Language Learner classification as an example of how
incentives are often misaligned. Schools receive extra funds for students
that are classified as ELL, so the incentive on the school is to put them
in an ELL class and keep them there-not to move them out, as that would
mean loss of the extra funds.
are alternatives to the traditional district school, he noted. If one
believes a district school is an impediment to innovation, which, he
added, is not an unreasonable assumption, there could be a charter school
inside the district that may be more amenable to change.
Implementation of the law
starts with school compacts.
one the board plans to ask schools to sign an "achievement compact", an
initial agreement outlining goals that the schools will strive for. A
school district will submit one compact for all schools in the district.
step one to get everyone focused on common outcomes, Wyse said.
next step will be to decide what happens when some schools set less
ambitious outcomes than expected, or don't meet their outcomes. The
board's particular responses to these types of scenarios are yet to be
Outcome-based budgeting is
under study for other areas.
Oregon Education Investment Board is part of a larger movement Wyse
discussed which advocates for more outcome-based budgeting in other areas
of state government.
process of outcome-based budgeting in government involves starting with
the desired outcomes for a topic area, soliciting proposals from agencies
and elsewhere to achieve those outcomes, and selecting and evaluating them
in terms of performance. Outcome-based budgeting marries policy with
budgeting, Wyse observed, and the governor is considering now where else
those principles may be applied successfully.
closing question about leadership Wyse said that Governor Kitzhaber is in
his third term, having left office for one term between his first two and
the current one. During his break from office the Governor, a Democrat,
came to believe that state processes had to be changed fundamentally. He
came back talking about wanting to redesign government.
result has been an interesting alliance, Wyse said, describing a day early
in the Governor's term when he brought conservative legislators to his
home for a conversation about working together on these issues.
result, Wyse said, he was able to bring votes along on open enrollment and
virtual schooling, two pillars of a major education reform last session.
Similar collaboration and resulting progress may be possible in future.
Chair thanked Mr. Wyse for the very informative discussion.