Oregon 2018-19 state assessment results fell for nearly every grade level and student group, according to data released Thursday.
Smarter Balanced assesses students’ progress on Common Core standards in math, English language arts and science and the likelihood students will graduate high school ready for college or a career. Students take the tests in grades 3-8 and 11, and it is graded on a 1-4 scale. Scores of 3 or 4 mean the student is meeting standards and on track.
For 2018-19, 53.5% of all Oregon students tested met the standards in English language arts and 39.4% met the math standards. Science used a new assessment, and scores are still being finalized.
The annual results have fluctuated in a tight range since the Smarter Balanced tests were implemented for the 2014-15 school year but have drifted slightly lower.
The Oregon Department of Education news release stressed that the tests are a narrowly focused snapshot in time and do not measure the breadth of personal and intellectual skills taught in schools. The release mentioned the need for real-time assessments that support teaching and learning.
The assessment results are broken out by districts, schools, grades and student groups, giving districts lots of ways to parse the data. State scores fell in every grade except third and fourth grade math, and they fell in every subgroup.
Every subgroup but Asian students trailed white students, most by more than 20 points. The Student Success Act, which will invest approximately $1 billion a year in education, has tasked schools with closing academic achievement gaps.
The assessment data guides state policy decisions as well as state-, district- and school-level system decisions.
Beaverton School District is among the higher scoring districts, but it saw relatively flat scores and its district averages dipped about 1 percentage point to 53.7% in math and 65% in language arts.
Beaverton representative Maureen Wheeler said the district would look at the longitudinal data to analyze how curriculums, schools and administrators are doing. The district is working on being consistent with curriculum, adding support for math, adding professional development, and paying attention to attendance and social and emotional learning.
“Our strategy is more than just a one-year look,” Wheeler said. “There is always room for growth.”
This was the first year since ODE enacted Smarter Balanced testing that the state saw across-the-board participation increases, with big increases in Portland Public Schools and Bend-La Pine Schools.
The Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal law governing K-12 public education, requires 95% participation by state as well as by student subgroups. States that do not comply could have federal funds withheld.
The 2015 Legislature allowed families to opt out of testing without a reason.
Oregon met the language arts requirement but math participation was 94% for all students. The state fell short of the 95% goal in about half of the subgroups for math and language arts. Students with disabilities at 89% for both had the lowest participation in math and language arts, and English learners had the highest at 97% for both.
ODE is allowing high schools to give the tests earlier in the year to ease students’ testing burden, according to ODE Director of Assessment Dan Farley. ODE is also working to help communities understand the need for participation.