Launched in early 2004, the Chalkboard Project is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization with the goal of helping to unite Oregonians to make our K-12 public schools among the nation’s best. Chalkboard’s first two years were spent conducting extensive public opinion polling as well as town halls and focus groups. The organization also engaged in extensive research about the state of Oregon’s public schools and national and international best practices. By combining what Oregonians said they wanted for their schools with what research had shown to be successful, Chalkboard developed a 15-point action plan that addressed issues of funding, quality and accountability.
Since the first action plan was developed, Chalkboard has championed bills in the legislature, funded pilot projects, ran grant programs and continued to help create a more informed and engaged public who understand and address the tough choices and trade-offs required to build strong schools.
Although Chalkboard continues to work in all three areas (funding, quality and accountability), in 2009 Chalkboard’s Board of Directors decided to narrow the organization’s strategic focus and spend 80% of its time and resources on supporting and strengthening educator effectiveness. Research shows that an effective teacher has the most significant in-school impact on a student’s success. Chalkboard believes it can make a bigger impact on education in Oregon by focusing on policies and programs that support educators.
The CLASS™ Project, Chalkboard’s largest pilot project to-date, focuses on four components of effective teaching to raise student achievement: expanded career paths, relevant professional development, effective performance evaluations, and new compensation models. Each district that participates in the CLASS Project designs plans around the four components that meet the need of its teachers, staff, students, and community. By combining research-based best practices with local needs, CLASS becomes the key vehicle for rethinking how professional development is offered, how new teachers are coached and mentored, how master teachers are identified and deployed, and how all teachers are evaluated and compensated. The goal of all teacher-developed CLASS Project designs is to raise student achievement. For more information about CLASS, visit cbclassproject.org.