Oregon Save Our Schools
Comments on: “A New Path for Oregon System of Assessment
to Empower Meaningful Student Learning Proposal by Oregon Educators”
Oregon Save Our Schools
(OSOS) had a voice in this process at a feedback forum, but we would like to
offer our additional comments. We
appreciate the opportunity to give feedback and the work that was done by the
OSOS has the following
guiding principles which we used in analyzing these recommendations for
An excellent, well-rounded, and engaging education for ALL
of Oregon’s public school students.
An end to high-stakes testing used for student, teacher,
or school evaluation.
Teacher, family, and community input that informs public
Equitable and well-funded schools that support students
and classrooms first.
An end to corporate education models and top-down
government mandates which threaten a strong, democratic, public education
comments are in bold
Recommendations for Creating
a Highly Effective Assessment System
recommendations identify factors to consider in transitioning to a new system
of assessment for student learning. These recommendations were developed by
members from Oregon Education Association (OEA), Oregon Education Investment
Board (OEIB), Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and school district
advisors, who worked more than a year on researching, studying and developing a
white paper titled, A New Path for Oregon: System of Assessment to Empower
Meaningful Student Learning. These recommendations will be vetted with a
diverse group of stakeholders and will be revised based on their collective
PAVING THE PATHWAY: POLICY FOUNDATIONS
Recommendation #1: Advocate and prepare for reauthorization of
ESEA that allows states to develop a system of assessment that truly supports
student learning through greater emphasis on valid, reliable and unbiased high
quality classroom, interim assessments and addresses the role of accountability
in the system.
result will be a reduction in the overall volume of tests and the frequency of
mandated assessments. Interim
assessments will be chosen at the local level with the state providing
resources. Teachers will be given
autonomy to choose assessments that meet the needs of their students. These could include portfolios and work
interim assessments will be used sparingly as to not restrict students’ access
to technology. The timing of these
assessments needs to be flexible in order for educators to address intervention
needs and differences in scheduling.
The manner in which teachers document progress will be at the discretion
of the district in collaboration with teachers.
and the district will work together to develop an assessment calendar to avoid
over testing and teaching to the test.
Any data gathered needs to be timely enough to inform instruction. The entire assessment system needs to
be examined to see if students are taking too many assessments in their varying
content areas and if an excessive amount of data is being gathered.
Recommendation #2: Support the “Student’s Assessment Bill of
Rights” to ensure students know and understand the purpose of assessments, the
learning targets that make up the assessment and how the results will be used;
and also to ensure students understand the differences between good and poor
performance on pending assessments and learn how to self-assess and track their
and students will also be made aware of what data relating to assessments will
be kept in state databases. We support students
being a partner in their learning process. Students should be allowed to decide
how they prefer to show their learning whether it is a work sample, test, or
performance task. In doing so, we
recognize the individual needs of the learner to choose the best and most
authentic way to demonstrate their learning.
CREATING CONDITIONS FOR SYSTEM OF ASSESSMENT
TRANSITION AND SUCCESS
Recommendation #3: Develop, fund, and implement extensive
professional development, with a commitment to a multi-year program, to develop
and enhance assessment literacy of educators. The effort should focus on high quality
classroom, interim, and annual assessments, both formative and summative uses
that have a clear purpose and support state standards and well defined learning
targets. Utilize federal funding
as a result of Representative Bonamici’s recent bill that would advance funds
to states around assessment practices.
Teachers are already
highly-trained in the art of assessment. We support their work and believe what
they need most is time rather than training in order to effectively assess
their students. Because of our misguided current high-stakes testing model, the
professional judgment of our teachers has taken a back seat to testing
companies as their products are given more value and voice in what constitutes
a quality assessment. It is time to recognize the talent and knowledge of our
teachers and invest in the resources and time they need to provide quality and
timely assessment for their students. Feedback from teachers states that an even more urgent issue
is access to time and materials rather than test development.
process will be made more clear so it is easier to communicate with parents,
students, teachers, and community members about student growth and
Federal funding should have no strings attached. Federal funding should be provided in a
manner that allows the vision and values of this plan/document to move forward
in an authentic manner.
Recommendation #4: Create a taskforce to conduct an audit of
the type and number of assessments currently administered in Oregon schools.
Include the amount of instructional hours being devoted to formative, interim,
progress monitoring and summative assessments to determine the impact on teaching
and learning time.
force should include current classroom educators.
taskforce will meet at a time where classroom educators will be able to
taskforce will also examine the effects of student morale and stress with
regards to the testing process.
important voices in determining the effects of testing in our schools are
teachers, students, principals, and parents. In collaboration, these groups should work to provide a
clear picture of how much testing is going on in their schools, how it is
affecting quality instructional time, and how it is affecting student morale
and learning. We feel districts should provide such information to this task
force so they can accurately evaluate these effects in such aforementioned
Recommendation #5: Advocate for state and federal funds to
initiate and maintain a cooperative statewide teacher resource bank which will provide classroom and interim
assessments, learning objectives, materials, and technology integration
suggestions. These items in this
bank will be designed by certified teachers and housed and run by the Oregon Department
of Education. These assessments will also be vetted valid,
reliable, and equitable, and made available for districts and individual
educators to use. The use of the assessment bank will be
optional, retaining educators’ rights to select materials that align to
learning objectives. Districts
receiving funds for item bank development will post their teacher-created
assessments for general use. A
comment section will be provided for teachers to provide feedback and
suggestions on the individual items.
Recommendation #6: Invest in the technology necessary to
learning not just for administering standardized tests, and to ensure students
have access to technology for college and career readiness.
Invest in technology to
ensure that students have access to technology for learning purposes during
testing periods. We suggest that
technology primarily be used to support authentic student learning rather than
fostering a testing culture. Provide professional development for educators and
paraprofessionals to successfully integrate technology into instruction.
Recommendation #7: Examine the current state of accommodations
for special education students, English language learners,and other populations
of diverse students to determine the impact of the additional testing and
determine an appropriate level of assessment for every subgroup of
Special Education and
English Language Learners will be required to take the Smarter Balanced
assessment only if meaningful accommodations are provided and the chance of
success is realistic and attainable. However, the current accommodations are not
assessments designed by the teacher to meet the child at their academic level
will be encouraged and allowed.
Investment will be made
so special populations have access to a comprehensive education that offers
enrichment beyond remediation.
A task force shall be
made consisting of teachers of vulnerable populations to develop
recommendations for additional accommodations.
In the meantime, parents
of vulnerable populations will be informed of their rights to opt-out of
state-mandated summative assessments.
We already have enough information to document the achievement gap. The urgency is in addressing that gap,
not more assessments.
CONSTRUCTING A NEW SYSTEM OF ASSESSMENT
Recommendation #8: Research the feasibility of reducing the
frequency of administering the annual statewide standardized summative
assessment while ensuring accurate yearly disaggregated data by subgroups
through enhancing the use of valid and reliable formative and interim
encourage the elimination of high-stakes testing when it comes to evaluating
teachers, schools, and districts whether it is annual testing or grade-span
support assessments that are authentic and teacher-created.
assessments are fine as long as they are not punitive or high-stakes, but
instead prefer grade span assessments as they take less instructional time,
provide fewer opportunities for student stress, and give students a better
chance to show growth.
Language Learners’ progress can be monitored by classroom assessments and the
English Language Proficiency Exam.
Education students should be monitored by progress on the Individual Education
tests such as the NAEP can be used as an valid assessment piece that can give
districts, board members, and ODE a snapshot of student learning and may be
considered as they are shown to be reliable and do not intrude on instructional
Recommendation #9: Advocate for state and federal funds to
develop and use high quality formative and interim assessments chosen by
educators from a menu of options vetted at the state and district level that
meet the needs of their students and high standards of quality. These
assessments will be standards-based, vetted as valid, reliable, and unbiased.
Students may also develop, in conjunction with educators and administrators,
work samples to demonstrate their learning and progress toward common core and
other academic standards.
purchased assessments will be provided by Oregon companies and written by
currently practicing Oregon educators.
of any of these assessments will be optional by the teacher and the district.
may be teacher-created.
assessments created locally will be posted to the statewide item bank.
Recommendation #10: Allow high school students to opt-in to the
Math or ELA section(s) of the Smarter Balanced Assessment earlier than 11th
grade so that they take the assessment as it coincides with their actual
academic course load rather than the current system which may have students
taking a test on content they haven’t studied for two or more years. In
essence, allow students to “bank” portions of the test.
high school students to alternatives to the Smarter Balanced Assessment that
still count for graduation.
with banked OAKS scores shouldn’t be required to take the SBAC.
Recommendation #11: Enhance and expand options to demonstrate
essential skills. Determine if other measures of essential skills exist and
promote the most options for students.
will report to the next legislative session the extra cost associated with
Smarter Balanced and the extra staff required to increase access to essential
skills and other routes.
may provide a portfolio or a work sample to show proficiency in lieu of taking
the SBAC or state mandated summative assessment.
CREATING TIME TO IMPLEMENT RECOMMENDATIONS
Recommendation #12: Suspend the use of Smarter Balance
Assessment results during 2015 for school ratings on report cards, but allow
students to use their 2015 Smarter Balance Assessment results to demonstrate
Essential Skills for high school graduation and allow for comprehensive
analysis of Smarter Balance to determine the value in relation to student
learning. Continue to suspend the use of Smarter Balance Assessment results for
educator evaluation during 2015-16 while developing a more balanced system of
immediately and indefinitely all uses of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.
instead on developing a system as outlined in this document.
meantime, research validity through the results of other states implementing
the Smarter Balanced Assessment.