An article recently came out that discusses how the Oregon Department of Education is requesting the U.S. Department of Education to waive the new state testing that is to be used to evaluated teachers. The Oregon Department of Education is agreeing with a large part of a Portland School Board’s request to delay the use of test results that is required under the new Common Core standards. The standards have been set-up to develop a statewide rating system for all educators.
On Wednesday, spokeswoman Crystal Greene stated that, it has been agreed by agency officials that it is too soon to be evaluating teachers through the new student test results. However, officials believe that it is not too soon for schools and school districts to be evaluated. This new form a testing will essentially help rank schools and their districts. The ranking will be on a scale of one to five, which is what the education department now does with existing statewide test results, Greene went on to explain. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test, which is the name of the new testing system is scheduled to be implemented in Oregon this coming school year.
On Tuesday the Portland School Board passed a resolution which asks the state to not use the testing results in their “punitive labeling” of teachers, students, schools and districts. They board went on to explain that the test which again is based on Common Core standards is just too new of a program to be able to prove valid.
As of now, they are waiting for a formal response from the Oregon education department in regards to the resolution. This will happen after Portland submits it to state and federal education officials, explained Greene, even though some of the state’s position is already known. Various state education officials have asked the U.S. Department of Education for their permission to not use the results of this new testing system which is used to rate teachers on May 1. Greene stated that her agency anticipates that the federal government will actually grant them that flexibility.
Even though the state is asking for a waiver involving teacher evaluations, they do not intend on seeking a waiver from federally mandated report cards that ask to rank each school and district. A prime advocate of the resolution and school board member, Ruth Adkins, indicated that the resolution was means to start a conversation and that the worries that the report cards are too “one-dimensional.”
I agree with Adkins, in that, there needs to be more talking about how to better balance the support for schools and accountability. It was hard for me to read Greene’s statement that education officials expect to see the number of students meeting state standards to drop after the new test is administered. I do however understand the prediction, since the new test is indeed more rigorous. Greene went on to explain that this simple fact “doesn’t mean students know less…We upped the bar. We have a larger measuring stick.”
It is good to know that this new test will not make it harder for students to graduate. Even though the test in itself is harder, the level of skill required to graduate has not changed. Fortunately when implemented correctly this new test could help everyone achieve their same goals … “for the schools to be great and the kids to do better,” said Adkins.