Assessing student achievement

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Assessment refers to the continuing process setting appropriate outcomes for learning and determining how well student performance matches those outcomes.

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Oregon students took the Smarter Balanced assessment during the 2014-2015 school year; students exceeded expectations. Results for English language arts, math and science are available from the Oregon Department of Education (ODE). ODE also has a Frequently Asked Questions document regarding test scores.

While Oregon students have been able to opt-out of educational activities for disability or religious, House Bill 2655 (2015) allows parents to opt-out their child from Smarter Balanced Assessments for any reason. Schools are required to notify parents twice a year and make the required forms available. ODE has made these forms available in several languages.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) 2015, the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) continues to require states to have annual summative assessments in place that align with state-adopted standards.

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Goals of Oregon's assessment system from the Oregon Department of Education are to:

  • Provide information on individual student achievement on performance standards set by the State Board of Education at grade and benchmark levels;
  • Provide information for federal ESSA requirements and for policy decisions by the legislature, the governor, the State Board of Education and local school districts;
  • Support instructional program improvement efforts;
  • Inform the public about student achievement in Oregon schools.

Oregon's assessment tools include:

  • The Smarter Balanced assessment for math and English language arts (ELA) 2015.
  • The Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) for all academic content standards not assessed using the Smarter Balanced scale.

Assessment and standards are intertwined - Standards are the goals set for student learning outcomes while assessments document a student's actual abilities, knowledge and skills. As education standards change, assessment tools and strategies must also change. As Oregon adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for math and English language arts (ELA), it is also transitioned to the Smarter Balanced Assessment aligned with those standards.

Summative, interim and formative assessments provide important feedback for understanding student progress and helping students learn.

  • Summative assessments measure student learning at a specific point in time to determine if learning goals have been met. It is generally used to provide external accountability.
  • Interim assessments provide mid-point evidence of student performance and are helpful in identifying gaps, evaluating programs and predicting success on summative assessments. Interim assessments that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards and compatible with the Smarter Balanced Assessments are available for districts to purchase.
  • Formative assessments are procedures used to modify teaching activities to help students learn.

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The following resource is provided for more detailed information on educational assessment:

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Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS)

Oregon's report card

Smarter Balanced Assessment