Home arrow COSA Blogs arrow COSA joining forces to work on state assessment changes. Any comments or questions?
COSA joining forces to work on state assessment changes. Any comments or questions? Print E-mail

kent-hunsakerby Executive Director Kent Hunsaker and co-authors from OEA, OSBA, ODE and several school districts

COSA, OEA, OSBA and several school districts have joined forces to work with the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to enhance understanding of recent federally-mandated changes in Oregon’s statewide assessment system, and to support ODE’s efforts to convince the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) to delay implementation of new "cut scores" for one year.

In June, USDE notified ODE that Oregon must amend its assessment system to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Law.  Those changes include re-establishing achievement standards (or “cut scores”) for state tests at grades 3-8 and high school, and implementing significantly different testing procedures for students on IEPs.  (For more about the testing changes for students with diabilities, read this ODE-produced IEP Assessment FAQ.)  USDE said that these changes must be implemented in 2006-07, and that failure to comply could cost Oregon millions of dollars in federal Title 1 funds.

Once implemented, these changes will result in a better assessment system – a system in which “cut scores” are aligned, providing greater predictability of student achievement from grade level to grade level.  Since the inception of Oregon’s achievement standards about a decade ago, a student’s success in meeting the third grade benchmark has not necessarily predicted similar success in fifth grade, let alone at eighth and tenth grades.  This new system should provide a smoother transition between grade level achievement standards, meaning that the test results reported to students, teachers, administrators, parents and communities will be more meaningful.  (More specifics about the testing changes are available in this ODE-produced Assessment Changes FAQ.)

Unfortunately, the USDE-imposed timeline leaves teachers and students at a significant disadvantage.  Because the cut scores haven’t been set, teachers don’t yet know what targets they should focus on to prepare students for success on state assessments.  And, because the 2006-07 testing cycle begins in November, students who take the tests won’t know whether they have met or exceeded state benchmarks, or whether they need to prepare to take the tests again.

Advocating to Delay Implementation Until 2007-08

susan castillo State Superintendent Susan Castillo and her staff are vigorously advocating for a one-year delay in putting the new achievement standards into practice, because of: 1) the unfairness of the timeline and resulting expectations for teachers and students, 2) the desire for sufficient time to develop and implement high-quality, reliable and aligned standards, and 3) the need to communicate effectively with staff, parents and community members about the changes. 

Castillo, with the full support of the State Board of Education, is presently talking with USDE officials, consulting legal experts and enlisting the assistance of national organizations.  If these efforts fail, COSA, OEA and OSBA have promised to support ODE by galvanizing members to advocate for the delay.  COSA, OEA and OSBA actions may include lobbying Oregon’s Congressional delegation, adopting school board resolutions statewide, or other activities deemed potentially effective.  Stay tuned.

Current Timeline

In the meantime, work proceeds toward development and implementation of the new achievement standards.  A task force that represents all of Oregon’s stakeholders will meet in December to review content standards and test items, and to recommend new achievement standards.  The deadline to apply to serve on the task force is October 20.  Task force members will be named by late November.  The task force will meet in Portland December 11-13. 

The recommended achievement standards are set to receive a field review in January, be presented to the State Board of Education in January and February, and ultimately adopted by the State Board in March.

Your Questions and Comments 

ODE, COSA, OEA and OSBA will continue to communicate with you as information about changes to Oregon’s statewide assessment system develops.  Until then, we encourage you to make comments and ask questions via the blog comment form below.  We’ll share your comments and questions with ODE, OEA and OSEA, and we’ll respond quickly.

Comments (3)Add Comment
Mid-stream changes demoralizing
written by Pat Monson, October 12, 2006
Thanks for your work..

The potential changes in mid stream are demoralizing to teachers and just plain wrong!

If they must continue to raise the playing field, at least wait a year and give us a fighting chance. This NCLB is out of control!
Permission Gladly Granted
written by Craig Hawkins, November 17, 2006
Please feel free to use portions (or all) of the article, Wayne. We are happy to share content that is of use to members and school districts. Attributing it to COSA would be appreciated. Also, if there is any other way we can help, please let us know.
Permission to Use Article
written by Wayne Goates, Student Services, November 17, 2006
The Albany School District would like permission to use portions of Kent Hunsaker's article in our district newsletter to respond to the question, "I heard the state is changing the requirements for students to pass OSAT." He does an excellent job of explaining the situation.

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This page was last updated on Monday, October 16, 2006 .