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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 and the content contained in the state form does not necessarily reflect the views of Portland Public Schools. This advisory explains how Portland Public Schools will use the form created by the Oregon Department of Education.
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. Most school districts, including Portland Public Schools, created their own form. 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.
How will the form be used in Portland Public Schools? Parents/guardians who wish to exempt their child from state tests must inform their school office. The form may be obtained from the school office. 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. 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 a PPS school 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 a PPS school after February 1, and wish to opt out their child, they are encouraged to complete the form within two weeks of enrolling.