Monday, April 25, 2016

Oregon Education Advocacy Groups Sign Joint Letter Calling for End to Smarter Balanced Assessment


Seven education advocacy groups with members in the Willamette Valley and across the state have written an open letter in response to a recent letter from superintendents in five Oregon school districts asking Oregon to end participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Read their letter below. Also find linked the original letter from superintendents.

An open letter to the citizens of Oregon:

The following organizations stand behind the request made by Oregon superintendents in their letter to Oregon’s Chief Education Officer Lindsey Capps and Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor to reconsider the use of the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Oregon schools.
These school leaders correctly stated that “...our current statewide assessment system carries high costs in instructional time, impact on graduation preparedness, and student and educator attention all of which detract from the benefits of the system.” And while all the signing organizations or members may not necessarily agree with the ideas put forward for an alternative end of high school exam, we do agree with their statement that: “The amount of testing students undergo in their junior year is a serious concern.”


We also agree with the superintendents’ statement that we need “thoughtful consideration of the most appropriate and effective assessments for grades 3–8” and that “...the new tests are lengthy and complex to administer. They require cumbersome and lengthy training that commandeers valuable professional development and teacher collaboration time which otherwise could be focused on meeting student needs, improving instructional practices, enhancing student engagement techniques, and advancing equitable systems in our schools.” We agree with the sentiment that these tests are far too long, at an average of 8 to 9 hours for students in grades 3-8. The superintendents suggest that “Perhaps an ideal statewide summative assessment would take less than an hour to administer...”


Finally, we strongly support the statement in the last paragraph of the superintendents’ letter:




“The changes brought forward by ESSA offer tremendous opportunity for our state, our schools, and our students. We can improve on our state’s system for student assessment and school accountability. We can consider measures of student engagement, college credit attainment, family participation and more in our accountability systems. However, addressing the constraints of our current assessment model is a first step. Please consider how we can help support the development of a new plan that can make Oregon a leader in the field once again.”

We are a broad coalition in support of these statements made by these district leaders. We may not all agree on every detail, but we agree that it is past time for us to have a discussion about what we as Oregonians want for our children. Let’s not waste this opportunity. We encourage public involvement and participation in this process. 


The Oregon Department of Education is holding public meetings around the state to “Reimagine Education” in Oregon. Please attend when they come to your area.


In the meantime, we continue to believe that a moratorium should be placed on SBAC. This assessment is clearly not good for our schools.

Read the original superintendents’ letter here.


Find the schedule of ODE public meetings here.


Oregon Save Our Schools (OSOS)


Parents Across America Oregon (PAA Oregon)


Angry Grandparents Against High Stakes Testing (AGAHST) 


Oregon Badass Teachers (Oregon BATs)


Community Alliance for Public Education, Eugene (CAPE) 


Eugene Parents Concerned About Testing


Salem Creative Network





1 comment:

  1. I appreciate the mention of a "HIGH COST IN INSTRUCTIONAL TIME." We are always hearing about how much money is involved in these so many efforts at "fixing" schools but miss the point that true educational outcome has less to do with money than to do with the protection of an uninterrupted instructional TIME.

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