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Crystal Greene, (503) 947-5878

June 23, 2010

Oregon Joins 31-State Consortium in Submitting RTTT Assessment Application

SMARTER Balanced is competing for a grant of up to $160 million to develop a student assessment system aligned with the common core academic standards

SALEM —State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo announced today that Oregon and 30 partner states have submitted a federal grant application that would develop a student assessment system aligned to a common core of academic standards.

The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, or SBAC, formed in December 2009, hopes to receive a Race to the Top assessment grant from the US Department of Education. The grant, which lasts four years, is worth as much as $160 million. No more than two grants will be awarded.

The assessment system to be developed by SBAC is tied to the Common Core Standards, an initiative led by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association to create a consistent and clear set of learning standards for K-12 in English language arts and mathematics that all states can use. By the end of 2011, states in the consortium must agree to adopt the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and math. States still in the consortium in 2014-15 must agree to use the consortium’s tests as their accountability assessments.

“This is an unprecedented opportunity to give our educators access to a world-class assessment system that measures students’ complex thinking and problem-solving abilities,” said Susan Castillo, State Superintendent of Public Instruction. “We are excited to partner with other states and especially Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Utah on this grant. Sharing many of the operational costs with other states allows us to provide a richer assessment and more instructional supports for our educators in their efforts to increase student learning,” said Castillo.

The SBAC tests will measure the full range of the common core standards in grades 3-8 and 11, including assessing problem solving and complex thinking skills. Teachers in participating states will be involved at all stages of item and test development, including writing, scoring, and the design of reporting systems. Educators will also be able to access a reporting system that identifies each student’s strengths, weakness, and progress toward college and career readiness. SBAC will create state-of-the-art adaptive online exams, using “open source” technology. The online system will provide accurate assessment information to teachers and others on the progress of all students, including those with disabilities, English language learners and low- and high-performing students. The system will include:
  1. the required summative exams (offered twice each school year);
  2. optional formative, or benchmark, exams; and
  3. a variety of tools, processes and practices for teachers to use in planning and implementing informal, ongoing assessment. This will assist teachers in understanding what students are and are not learning on a daily basis so they can adjust instruction accordingly.
SBAC’s goal – to ensure that all students leaving high school are college and career ready – will be achieved with the high-quality assessment system to be created by the consortium. The system will include rigorous, internationally benchmarked tests that report on how each student has been progressing toward and is currently performing on a pathway to career and college readiness.

The test scores will be able to be used for improved educator accountability and to help identify professional development needs of teachers and principals.

“The SBAC proposal addresses the pressing national need for a high quality assessment system that goes beyond simply measuring a narrow set of basic skills toward a model that will provide useful information to teachers, students, and parents alike, and will be much better aligned with college and career readiness goals,” said Dr. David T. Conley, professor at the University of Oregon and chief executive officer of the Educational Policy Improvement Center. “The effort and expertise that has gone into producing this proposal is unprecedented.”

The U.S. Department of Education is expected to announce its awards in September 2010. States in the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium will share many of the operational costs of the assessment system.

Learn more about the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium at http://www.k12.wa.us/SMARTER.

Susan Castillo, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Morgan Allen, Interim Communications Director, Telephone (503) 947-5920

Oregon Department of Education News Releases contain information that was originally released to the press as an official release.  Refer to each News Release for the details.

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