Pursuant to federal and state accountability requirements, Oregon public schools test students in English language arts and math in grades 3 through 8 & 11 and in science and social sciences in grades 5, 8, & 11. Additional required assessments include an English language proficiency assessment for English learners (ELs) and the Oregon Extended Assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities. These summative assessments used for accountability are customized for the needs of Oregon students; test development for these assessments has included Oregon teachers in all feasible aspects (e.g., item development, scoring rubric validation, standard setting).
State Tests and Family Rights
In 2010, Oregon adopted higher K-12 standards in English Language Arts & Math to ensure all students move from grade to grade with the academic knowledge and skills necessary for success beyond high school. Because we raised the bar for what we expect students to know and be able to do, we have also changed the way we measure student progress through our state tests, known as Smarter Balanced.
How much time do the tests take?
The tests are not timed so your child can take as much time as they need to fully demonstrate what they know and can do. With our new exams, your child tests only once per year, unlike in previous exams.
What do the results mean and where do I get my child’s results?
Test results identify your child’s strengths and areas for improvement in English Language Arts and Math. Each subject will be broken into categories and will show how well your child performed in each area. The test measures student learning on a 4- point scale. Your school will share your child’s scores with you at the start of the year to help support your child’s success as they move from grade to grade.
Why does participation matter?
While no single test can give a complete picture of your child’s progress, having your child take the state test provides educators and administrators with information about what educational approaches are working and where additional resources are needed. Your child’s participation is important to ensure schools and districts receive the targeted resources they need to help all schools succeed.
The Oregon Department of Education has created a form that parents or guardians of students attending public schools in Oregon must fill out annually if they wish to exempt their child (or “opt out”) from the summative English language arts and/or math tests, including the Smarter Balanced and Extended Assessments. The tests are mandated by the state.
Why did the state create an official form and how does this differ from past practice?
For many years, the state has allowed families to refuse testing for their students based on reasons of religion or disability. A new state law (House Bill 2655) now allows parents/guardians to opt out their student without providing a reason for the English language arts and/or math tests. To comply with this law, the state created a new form. School districts are now required to use this form for the English language arts and/or math tests and are no longer able to create their own form.
2018-19 30-Day Notice for Statewide Tests & Opt-Out Form
Parents/guardians who wish to exempt their child from state tests must inform their school office. The Opt-Out Form may be obtained by downloading from this page (see below). The form must be signed and returned to the school office. Families can fill out the form to opt out their student at any time prior to the beginning of testing (see 2018-19 30-Day Notice for Statewide Tests link below). However, they are encouraged to submit the signed form before February 1, to allow schools to plan for who will test and who will not prior to the beginning of testing. If families enroll in TEACH-NW after February 1 and wish to opt out their child, they are encouraged to complete the form within two weeks of enrolling.
What if a family refuses to sign the form?
The state requires the form to be filled out in order for the student to be exempted from testing. No substitutions for or altered versions of the form will be accepted, and students without a signed form will be expected to participate in testing. Families with concerns or who otherwise wish to express their views about the form should contact the Oregon Department of Education, 255 Capitol St NE, Salem, OR 97310; (503) 947-5600 or their state Legislators. Look up the name and contact information for your State Legislators: www.oregonlegislature.gov/findyourlegislator/leg-districts.html
What about other state tests like OAKS Science, optional Social Science, or the English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA)?
The new law that resulted in the new form only applies to summative English language arts and/or math tests, including the Smarter Balanced and Extended Assessments. If parents or guardians wish to exempt their child (or “opt out”) from the science, social science, or ELPA, it must be based on reasons of religion or disability. The form may be obtained from the school office. The form must be signed and returned to the school office. Families are encouraged to complete these steps by February 1, to allow schools to plan for who will test and who will not prior to the testing period. If families enroll in TEACH-NW after February 1 and wish to opt out their child, they are encouraged to complete the form within two weeks of enrolling.
The Oregon Kindergarten Assessment is composed of the following three measures: Early Literacy, Early Math, and Approaches to Learning. The assessment is designed to focus on domains that are strongly linked to third grade reading and future academic success as well as to align with current assessment practices in Oregon’s Kindergarten and elementary schools. The information provides a snapshot of communities and schools on the skills that students have when they enter Kindergarten. School-level test windows must begin no later than the first day of the district’s school year and must last for at least six calendar weeks. Districts may exempt any student enrolling in Kindergarten in the last three weeks of the school-imposed test window from participating in the Kindergarten Assessment.
Who takes it?
All kindergarteners take the Oregon Kindergarten Assessment.
What does it measure?
The Oregon Kindergarten Assessment measures early literacy and early math skills, social-emotional development, approaches to learning, and self-regulation.
When is it administered?
School-level test windows must begin no later than the first day of the district’s school year and must last for at least six calendar weeks. Districts may exempt any student enrolling in Kindergarten in the last three weeks of the school-imposed test window from participating in the Kindergarten Assessment.
Who requires it?
The Oregon Kindergarten Assessment is a state test required by the Oregon Department of Education.
What if I want to know more about this assessment?
- Visit the Kindergarten page for translated information about the Oregon Kindergarten Assessment.
- Frequently Asked Questions about the Oregon Kindergarten Assessment from the Early Learning Council
What if I don’t want my child to take the Kindergarten Assessment?
OAR 581-022-1910 allows school districts to excuse students from a Kindergarten Assessment, including state testing, to accommodate a student’s disabilities or religious beliefs. To be excused, the parent must submit a written request to the school district
Understanding Student Assessment
Assessments are an integral part of education in our state; in fact, they are included in the state’s definition of instruction in OAR 581-022-0102(30)(a). At their most basic level, assessments are the tools and practices we use to collect and interpret the information we need to make decisions in everyday life. Health professionals use instruments like thermometers and x-rays to monitor the health of their patients and make recommendations. Scientists collect and analyze water samples to determine the quality of our streams and lakes. In education, teachers and administrators use state assessments, work samples, and other forms of assessment to measure how well students are learning and determine how best to support them moving forward.
Each assessment or assessment practice within the OSAS has a unique purpose, but all support stakeholders in understanding student achievement. Summative assessments, which are assessments of learning that has occurred, are designed to evaluate systems level patterns, akin to looking through a telescope at large planetary systems that do not change rapidly over time. Interim/benchmark assessments and formative assessment practices are assessments for learning; they are designed to guide instruction. Interim/benchmark assessments provide a seasonal gauge of learning, like looking through binoculars at aspects of the environment that change slowly over the course of several months. Formative assessment practices are designed to evaluate individual students in active learning environments, akin to the level of detail one would expect by looking through a microscope at busy, moving organisms that change moment-to-moment.
Quality assessments provide results that are used to inform a broad range of decisions at the classroom, district, and state levels:
- Students and their parents use assessment results to check mastery of key learning targets;
- Teachers use formative assessment practices and interim/benchmark assessments in the classroom to identify gaps in student learning and adjust instruction;
- Teachers and administrators use summative assessment results to review learning patterns annually, to determine systems-level changes that might be required from year-to-year;
- State and local leaders use summative assessment results to make important policy decisions, like where and how to invest in Oregon schools and how to hold schools accountable for the outcomes of those investments