Gov. Tina Kotek’s education adviser will soon lead the state agency in charge of licensing teachers and enforcing standards. 

The 17-member Teacher Standards and Practices Commission voted unanimously in a special meeting Tuesday to appoint Melissa Goff executive director for the agency. She’ll start Thursday.

Melissa Goff (Photo by Greater Albany Public Schools via Oregon Capital Chronicle)

Goff replaces Anthony Rosilez, who was appointed by the commission in 2018. Rosilez informed the commission of his desire to resign this summer, and will officially step down effective Nov. 3, according to the meeting notes and Danny Moran, a spokesperson for Kotek. Rosilez did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon. 

Goff has served as Kotek’s education adviser since January, specifically to coordinate improvements and historic investments in literacy and early learning across state education agencies. She served as superintendent of schools at Philomath from 2015-19.

Goff did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon.

About 40% of Oregon fourth graders and one-third of Oregon eighth graders scored “below basic” on the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress, often referred to as the “nation’s report card.” That means they struggle to read and understand simple words.

“The governor is focused on the work TSPC does with educator prep, and she has a lot of trust in Melissa to go do this work,” Elisabeth Shepard, a spokesperson for Kotek, said. “The governor’s emphasis on early literacy shines through on this decision. Having somebody at the helm who has good expertise on this made a whole lot of sense.”

Goff comes to the job with no higher education leadership experience. She spent the bulk of her career as a K-12 public school district superintendent in Albany and Portland in addition to Philomath. She was deputy executive director of the Oregon School Boards Association for three months before joining Kotek’s staff.

“Logic is she cares a lot about educators, and part of TSPC’s work is setting teachers up to go off and into a K-12 setting. We feel her expertise is there,” Shepard said. 

In May, Kotek appointed a council to investigate and evaluate reading instruction at the state’s educator preparation programs and determine whether it’s aligned with decades of research on how best to teach reading. The goal is to update the teacher licensing process so all new teachers licensed in Oregon demonstrate they understand how best to teach all kids to read.

Read the Capital Chronicle’s three part special investigation on reading:

Part 1: Many Oregon kids still struggle to read because they are taught using ineffective methods

Part 2: Oregon’s 15 educator preparation programs offer vastly different reading instruction methods to future teachers, and some teach flawed methods

Part 3: With districts, not the state, responsible for improving the teaching of reading, some students will be left behind

Oregon Capital Chronicle

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Lynne Terry for questions: Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.

Alex Baumhardt has been a national radio producer focusing on education for American Public Media since 2017. She has reported from the Arctic to the Antarctic for national and international media, and from Minnesota and Oregon for The Washington Post. She previously worked in Iceland and Qatar and was a Fulbright scholar in Spain where she earned a master's degree in digital media. She's been a kayaking guide in Alaska, farmed on four continents and worked the night shift at several bakeries to support her reporting along the way.