Common Core-aligned field test complete, four Oregon kids approve

Out with the old, in with the new: The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) announced to the press today that field tests are complete for Smarter Balanced, the standardized test that will replace the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills next year. In spring of this year, students from 90 Oregon school districts took preliminary tests of Smarter Balanced, a test run before all Oregon public schools switch over to the new tests in spring of 2015.

Schools from the Lowell, Oakridge, Bethel, Crow-Applegate-Lorane and Fern Ridge school districts participated in the field test. Schools from Eugene and Springfield districts did not participate.

According to ODE’s website, “the new test focuses on critical thinking and direct student response instead of multiple choice items. Students are asked to explain their reasoning, type short answers to questions and engage with the assessment in a manner much more akin to a classroom assignment.”

Rob Saxton, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction for ODE, says on ODE’s website that “We do expect the percent of students passing these new tests to go down substantially, but that does not mean that our students know less.” ODE estimates that only 30 to 40 percent of Oregon students will pass the Smarter Balanced test next year.

ODE offers cheerful comments from four students who participated in the test, including sixth grader Ella, who described the test as a “cool, new experience.” EW is in the process of tracking down a full list of student comments from focus groups after the test. According to ODE’s website, no scores will be reported from the field testing.