Article excerpt

Byline: The Register-Guard

Essay question: Describe how Oregon students earn a Certificate of Initial Mastery and a Certificate of Advanced Mastery, and summarize the purpose of the certificates.

Finished? Most Oregonians probably never even got started. Their papers are blank because they never had a clear idea of what the CIM and CAM are all about. The good news is that the question won't be on anyone's test for long. Susan Castillo, Oregon's superintendent of public instruction, all but pronounced the CIM and CAM dead in a speech to the Portland City Club last week.

Castillo said it's time to "move beyond" CIM and CAM. "I'm not talking about abandoning what those certificates have been about, which is high standards, strong accountability for student performance and creating a relevant learning experience that connects students with the workplace and the community," she said. But the "certificate system was too complex and confusing."

The certificates never caught on. Fewer than one-third of Oregon high school graduates earn a CIM, even though all high schools are required to make them available. The CAM has remained optional, its implementation unendingly delayed. High school students can graduate without earning either certificate. Even in Oregon, the certificates are not a factor in college admissions, and employers pay little or no attention to them.

The CIM and CAM are centerpieces of the Oregon Educational Act for the 21st Century, approved by the Legislature in 1991. The act mandates standards for student performance, requires testing to ensure the standards are being met, and defines skills that students will need in college and the workplace. …