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September 12, 2012
2011-12 Test Results for Reading, Math, Science, and Writing Released
Elementary and middle school performance on the rise; high school performance dips
(Salem, Ore.) – Acting Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Rob Saxton today announced the results of student performance on the 2011-12 state assessments in reading, mathematics, writing, and science. Over the past several years, Oregon has set new, more rigorous expectations for elementary and middle school students to better prepare them for high school and beyond. In 2010-11, students in grades 3 through 8 were held to a higher standard in math and last year higher expectations were put in place for reading and science. Student learning increased at every grade level in reading, but the overall percent of students meeting standard went down in elementary and middle school due to the new, higher expectations. High school performance held steady. In math, elementary and middle school students continued to see gains; however, the percent of high school students meeting the state standard declined.
“This year’s test results highlight both areas of great progress and areas of great concern,” said Acting Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton. “Our elementary and middle school students continue to rise to the challenge of higher expectations, but the high school results this year are not where they need to be. The decrease in the percent of students meeting elementary and middle school reading targets was to be expected. When you raise the bar, not all kids will get over it in the first year, but just as we saw with math in 2010-11, student learning has increased as students and schools work to reach these higher expectations. However, our students' science results are very disappointing as were our English Language Learners' test results this year. And high school performance was flat or down in every subject. I know our high schools are working hard, but clearly something has to change because we are not moving in the right direction. We need to reverse this trend and soon if we are going to meet our 40-40-20 goal.”
2011-12 Results at a Glance
In a move to prepare students for the increased rigor of the new Common Core State Standards and the Oregon Diploma, the State Board of Education adopted higher expectations (or achievement standards) for elementary and middle school students in reading. This change aligned Oregon’s reading standards with rigorous national and international expectations and provided students, parents, and teachers with better information about how prepared students are to meet Oregon’s high school diploma requirements. As predicted, the increase in the reading expectations resulted in fewer students meeting benchmark this year. However, in order to create an apples to apples comparison, we need to measure both years’ students against the same standard to see what progress was made. When we look at the percent of 2010-11 students who would have met state standards under the new 2011-12 expectations, the growth in student learning is evident. Results below are for grades 3-8. High school achievement standards did not change this past year and are therefore not included in this comparison.
Student performance in reading was stronger in 2011-12 than in 2010-11. Students are demonstrating higher levels of mastery in elementary and middle school reading and rising to the challenge of increased expectations. For more on the new, more rigorous reading expectations, go to: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=3296.
New Content, New Test, New Expectations: A Closer Look at Science
In 2009, the State Board adopted new content standards in science. These content standards describe what students are expected to know and be able to do at each grade and they provide an instructional guide to classroom teachers. There were some significant changes to the science standards including the addition of Scientific Inquiry and Engineering Design content and an overall focus on the big ideas. These new science learning standards have been phased into classroom instruction over the past several years, but this past year was the first time students were tested on the new standards. Changes to what students are learning necessitates changes to the state test and this year’s test included new test items and more problem-based constructed response items. In addition to changes in the test and classroom content, the State Board also adopted slightly higher expectations for 5th and 8th grade students in science. High school expectations remained the same. These new expectations went into effect this year along with the higher expectations in reading.
When expectations go up, it is not surprising to see an initial drop in the percent of students meeting standard. However, unlike in reading, this year’s science results do not show an increase in student learning. When we look at the percent of students in 2010-11 who would have met the 2011-12 expectations, there was still a drop in student performance.
While the change in content standards and the new test elements make comparisons more difficult, this year’s results clearly indicate that work is left to be done. For more on the new science expectations, go to: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=3319.
“Our state made a commitment to rigorous college- and career-ready expectations in English and math through the adoption of the Common Core,” said Saxton. “We need to make a similar level of commitment to science if we are going to ensure our students are ready for today’s competitive, technology-rich world. Proficiency in the STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – will only become more vital in the years to come.”
Oregon is serving as a lead state in the review and development of national Next Generation Science Standards. Similar to the Common Core, these standards will provide a rigorous, internationally benchmarked standard in science. A final version of these standards is anticipated in the spring of 2013 and states will have the option of adopting them after that time.
2011-12 Oregon Assessment Results
The percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards on the 2011-12 state tests is shown below. Click here to access a table of assessment results by student subgroup or access data by school and district on the ODE website.
Raising the Rigor with the Common Core
In 2010, the State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards—rigorous, national learning expectations aligned with international standards. These common standards will help prepare Oregon students to compete not just here in Oregon but nationally and internationally as well. Oregon is one of more than 45 states to adopt these standards. Schools and districts have already begun to phase these standards into classroom instruction and that work will continue in the coming years. Oregon is also helping to lead the work in the development of a national assessment, the Smarter Balanced Assessment, designed to test students on these new standards. Assessment of the Common Core is scheduled to occur starting in the spring of 2015.
About Oregon’s Testing System
Under Oregon’s assessment system, state reading and math tests are given at grades 3-8 and high school. In the past, writing tests were given at grades 4, 7, and high school. However, due to budget constraints, the Oregon Legislature suspended the 4th and 7th grade writing tests and this past year only 11th grade students took the state writing test. State science tests are taken in grades 5, 8, and high school.
Last year, the state delivered over 1.4 million tests through ODE’s computer-based testing system, OAKS Online (OAKS = Oregon Assessment of Knowledge & Skills). Oregon is a national leader in online testing, which provides students and teachers with immediate, detailed feedback on student performance. In addition, Oregon’s online testing system is adaptive, meaning that each student’s test is unique and adapts to the level of difficulty most appropriate for that student. A state led effort called Direct Access to Achievement (the DATA Project) helps schools use assessment data to better meet students’ needs and increase student achievement.
For an audio clip of Acting Deputy Superintendent Saxton, go to: http://video.orvsd.org/ode/120829_003.MP3
For an FAQ on Assessment Results, go to: http://www.ode.state.or.us/wma/superintendent/release/2011-12-assessment-faq.pdf
For Assessment Results by district and school, go to: http://www.ode.state.or.us/go/TestResults
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