Oregon Legislature passes achievement gap bill

Hood River leaders’ bill addresses ways to reduce number of at-risk students

The Oregon House and Senate have both approved legislation aiming to reduce Oregon’s achievement gap among at-risk students. Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River) and Sen. Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River), HB 4044 requires the Chief Education Office (CEO) to work with local school districts to identify strategies for recruiting, retaining and mentoring educators who serve at risk student populations.

The House vote was 51-0 and the Senate tally was 29-0.


Rep. Jeff Helfrich


Sen. Chuck Thomsen

“HB 4044 was developed through conversations with school administrators in Hood River, the Multnomah Education Service District and the Clackamas Education Service District,” Helfrich said. “The goal of this legislation is to identify which programs are providing the kind of support educators serving at-risk student populations need to best serve our children, and to find a way to expand these programs to as many communities as possible. This bill is an investment in our teachers, an investment in our students and investment in the future of Oregon.”

HB 4044 specifically calls for the Chief Education Office to “conduct a study on the recruitment, retention, mentoring and professional development of educators who serve students in public preschool through grade 12 who are from student groups that may be at risk for experiencing an achievement gap when compared to other student groups.”

In testimony before the House Education Committee, Helfrich further clarified the goals behind the legislation:

The bill has a four-fold purpose: Identify, research, review and assess programs used in school districts and education service districts that support educators. To unpack this, HB 4044 will:

First, to identify the programs assessed and funding sources for those programs that have been most effective or efficient in improving the recruitment, retention, mentoring and professional development of educators or have been most effective or efficient in positively impacting outcomes for students.

Second, identify schools or school districts that have implemented programs identified and, for each of these, identify reasons the program was effective or efficient; identify populations of educators or students served by the program; and challenges and opportunities for success and improved outcomes for educators and students.

Representatives from the Multnomah County Education Service District, Clackamas Education Service District and the Reynolds School District submitted testimony in favor of the bill. The bill is not expected to have a negative fiscal impact on the state budget, according to Helfrich.

In addition to Rep. Helfrich and Sen. Thomsen, HB 4044 is sponsored by Democratic Representatives Janeen Sollman (D-Hillsboro) and Diego Hernandez (D-Portland).

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