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Superintendent names chief academic officer

July 08, 2009

Superintendent Carole Smith announced today that Xavier Botana has accepted the position of chief academic officer for Portland Public Schools. Botana will oversee the school district's academic programs, including curriculum, special education, English as a second language, and talented and gifted services.

Botana is currently a chief officer with Chicago Public Schools, where he directs the district's elementary curriculum and assessments.

Superintendent Smith said Botana's ability to increase academic quality will strengthen current efforts to improve student learning at all schools.

"Xavier has a strong record of building shared ownership of school improvement among parents, teachers and the community," Smith said. "He doesn't believe that there is one formula for student success. Instead, he has demonstrated the ability to use many tools to improve outcomes for students."

Botana comes to PPS with more than 20 years of experience as a teacher, school and district administrator and state education leader. He will join PPS on Aug. 10.

He expressed excitement about the appointment. "I've been impressed by the high caliber of the people I've met," he said. "There is a strong commitment here to provide a top-notch experience for every student regardless of income or background.

"My experiences in linking teaching and assessments and providing strong supports for teachers, match well with the direction of Portland Public Schools. I look forward to working with teachers, students, principals and the Portland community in supporting great opportunities for all PPS students."

Botana has led instructional, assessment and accountability programs for Chicago Public Schools since 2002. He joined CPS shortly after the arrival of Arne Duncan, former CPS chief executive officer, and now the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.

At CPS, Botana led teaching and learning efforts that raised academic expectations and rigor for middle school students and provided teachers with coaching and instructional content support. He also led the development of a school district scorecard that provides greater transparency about the quality of CPS to families and the community.

Botana has also directed testing and accountability programs for CPS and directed the school district's response to No Child Left Behind requirements. In this position, Botana used assessments to help improve the ability of teachers to meet the individual needs of students, while still meeting federal and state requirements.

During Botana's tenure, CPS showed increases in the percentage of students meeting or exceeding benchmarks, particularly at the elementary and middle grades.

Prior to his work with Chicago Public Schools, Botana worked for the Illinois State Board of Education as a division administrator. In this capacity he was a liaison to Chicago Public Schools for accountability issues and managed state and federal programs focused on disadvantaged students. He began his career as a bilingual teacher before becoming a school and district administrator in suburban Chicago.

Botana earned bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Chicago State University. He is currently a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University. He was born in Cuba and moved to the United States with his family when he was 2 years old. He spent most of his childhood in Spain, moving back to the United States after high school.

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