Salam Noor out as Oregon schools chief

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon schools chief Salam Noor resigned Wednesday after less than 2 ½ years on the job.

Gov. Kate Brown announced the news in a statement, saying Colt Gill will serve as acting chief during the search for a permanent replacement.

Noor's resignation comes about a month after test results showed Oregon students declining in reading, writing and math. Noor, whose official title was deputy superintendent for public instruction, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Brown was out of the country on a trade mission and unavailable for comment.

She appointed Noor to the position in May 2015, just three months after taking over as governor. Her statement did not include any highlights from Noor's tenure, simply stating: "I thank Salam for his service to the state of Oregon."

In addition to sluggish test scores, Oregon has also been plagued with chronically low graduation rates. Though the rate ticked upward to 75 percent on Noor's watch, it's still well below the national average of 83 percent.

Oregon has in recent years set a goal of a 100 percent graduation rate by 2025, something no state has achieved. Brown, in a letter dated Wednesday to Gill and other top education officials, said boosting graduation rates remains a top priority, though she backs away from the 100 percent target, settling for the still-ambitious goal of 90 percent.

In addition to improving the graduation rate, she asked education leaders to:

—Establish a unified education budget for 2019-2021 that ensures more students meet key education benchmarks and improves school readiness and attendance.

—Develop a statewide early learning plan that serves all Oregon communities

—Expand career pathways aligned to workforce needs by collaborating with workforce, business, and industry partners.

Gill, a former superintendent of the Bethel School District in Eugene, was named the state's education innovation officer in 2016, charged with increasing the number of students completing high school.

"As education innovation officer, Colt has cultivated strong partnerships with rural and urban school districts, communities and students, recommending policies that will improve student success in every corner of the state," Brown said.

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