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5/16/2013 2:26:00 PM
State Board Adopts Common Core Assessment
Smarter Balanced selected to replace OAKS starting in 2015

(Salem, Ore.) –
Today, the State Board of Education unanimously voted to select Smarter Balanced to test students’ mastery of the new Common Core State Standards in English and math starting in the 2014-15 school year. The Common Core are common learning expectations which have been adopted by 45 states over the past several years. These standards were developed by the states for the states to prepare students to be nationally and internationally competitive and to ensure they graduate high school prepared for college and career. The Oregon State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards in October of 2010. Today’s vote selected the test that will be used in Oregon schools to assess these new standards. Smarter Balanced will replace Oregon’s current state-wide test – the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills – for English Language Arts and math starting in the 2014-15 school year.

“I believe that the Common Core will play a vital role in preparing our students to be globally competitive,” said State Board Chair Artemio Paz, Jr. “As a Board, we felt that Smarter Balanced best fit the assessment needs of Oregon’s students and schools. This adoption will allow our schools and classrooms to move forward with implementing this new, more rigorous system.”

With states’ adoption of the Common Core, several groups began development of common assessments to test these new standards. Two state consortiums, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), received Race to the Top funding to develop Common Core tests. Oregon, along with many other western states, chose to join the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium as a Governing state. This has allowed our state to have a seat at the decision-making table and help ensure that the new assessment would provide our students with the high quality, online, adaptive test we have come to expect through our current system. Oregon is one of 25 states affiliated with the Smarter Balanced Consortium.

However, Oregon’s affiliation with Smarter Balanced did not bind our state to adopting their assessment. In order to ensure our state was selecting the test that would truly be best for our students and schools, the Oregon Department of Education pulled together a workgroup of 18 education stakeholders to review all of the assessment options and make a recommendation to the State Board of Education. This workgroup, which included teachers, administrators, higher education representatives, members of the State Board, a Legislator, a parent, and a representative from Stand For Children, reviewed information on the available assessment options including assessments offered by PARCC, NWEA, ACT, College Board, and Renaissance Learning in addition to Smarter Balanced. To ensure an impartial review process, the majority of the panel members came from randomly selected districts from around the state. After two half-day meetings, their unanimous recommendation was for Oregon to adopt Smarter Balanced. The State Board considered the panelists’ recommendation today in making their final decision.

“Oregon has long been a national leader in online, adaptive testing and our early involvement with Smarter allowed us to help guide and inform this work,” said Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton. “But Smarter is only one of several Common Core assessment options open to states and we really wanted to make sure that it was the best possible choice. The process we conducted over the past month has confirmed to us that Smarter Balanced will provide our students with the highest quality assessment and will provide our teachers with the best information about student learning so that they can adapt instruction to better meet student needs. I want to thank everyone involved in this process for their thoughtful review and consideration of the available options.”

The Smarter Balanced assessment can provide Oregon with more than end-of-year, or summative, tests. The new assessment offers a suite of tools and resources that will allow teachers to track student learning and growth throughout the year through customizable formative and interim assessments that can help teachers target, adjust, and improve their instruction. These resources provide built-in professional development for teachers and timely feedback on student learning that can help inform instructional decisions. This suite of resources, including formative and interim assessments and professional development for classroom teachers, was a major factor considered by the assessment review panel. These resources could help teachers more seamlessly integrate assessment into classroom instruction, allowing teachers to catch gaps in student understanding earlier in the school year.

The tests will also go beyond multiple-choice to include tasks that allow students to demonstrate more authentic research, writing, and analytical skills. Like Oregon’s current system, this test will be online and adaptive meaning that teachers and students will get results quickly and that the test will adjust to provide each student with an appropriate level of difficulty. Students will demonstrate their knowledge and skills through a range of activities including multiple choice items, short answer, technology enhanced items, and performance tasks. Performance tasks will ask students to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world problems and will capture information on students’ depth of understanding as well as their research, problem solving, and analytical skills. This will provide much richer information than can be captured through a multiple choice test. The assessment also includes accommodations to ensure it is accessible to our students with disabilities and our English Language Learners.

This more integrated, comprehensive, and authentic system will cost more than our current summative system due to the range of features listed above, but the panel felt these resources and offerings would be of incredible value in Oregon schools. Oregon’s adoption of the full suite of resources is dependent on legislative funding.

Selected schools around Oregon have already begun piloting elements of the Smarter Balanced assessments and a practice test will be available online later this month. To learn more about Smarter Balanced visit http://www.smarterbalanced.org or http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=3298. To learn more about the Common Core visit http://www.ode.state.or.us/go/commoncore.
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