Sunday, May 29, 2016

ESSA Workgroups Meet: Educator Effectiveness

This is the last of four posts regarding the ESSA workgroups meeting in Oregon to create Oregon's new system under ESSA. These are summaries released from each workgroup. Today we post the School Improvement Workgroup's recap/next steps. Find more information about this workgroup here.  Read about the other workgroups here: 

Accountability Work Group
School and District Improvement Work Group
Standards and Assessment Work Group

Educator Effectiveness:
Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

WHERE WEVE BEEN
The Educator Effectiveness Workgroup has been charged with the task of identifying possible supports for districts to better ensure that every Oregon student is taught by a high quality, effective teacher and every Oregon school building is led by a high quality, effective educational leader. This includes discussions regarding the implications of Senate Bill 290, considerations for improving how state and local districts might better determine the effectiveness of educators, as well as how best to infuse elements of the Equitable Access to Excellent Educators Plan into
Oregon’s State Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Work Group Progress
The Educator Effectiveness Workgroup holds a shared vision of ensuring the all students, particularly our most vulnerable students, including those with disabilities, language learners, and historically underserved, are taught by an effective teacher. The workgroup examined the current reality within educator effectiveness in Oregon, including the:

  •   *Unintended consequences of Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) requirements and how it has impacted schools’ and districts’ ability to serve all students
  •   *Inconsistent implementation of educator evaluations across districts
  •   *Limited resources and support for educators to use and implement a meaningful
       evaluation tool

    Similarly, the Educator Effectiveness Workgroup has also identified several key aspects of an improved evaluation system under the new ESSA legislation:
  • -  Shifting from a model of compliance to a system focused on growth for all schools and districts that is rooted in asset-based language, rather than the current deficit-based approach
  • -  Considering the use of formative assessments as a value-added component that guides continuous improvement, thus better allowing differentiated support for educators and students
  • -  Strengthening the relationships between teachers and administrators through collaborative goal setting that is based on useful and timely student information

    Ongoing Discussions
    To further address the shared challenges above, the workgroup will continue to focus on the Equitable Access to Excellent Educators Plan and Senate Bill 290, including:

  • *Exploring ways to define an “excellent educator” and “excellent school leader” without the     constraints of HQT (Highly Qualified Teacher)
  • *Discussing the root causes of inequitable access to excellent educators and school leaders for traditionally marginalized student populations and the strategies identified in the plan to address them. (Human Capital Management, Ongoing Professional Learning, and Monitoring Teacher and Principal Preparation)
  • *How might state tests play a role, if at all, in Growth Goals for evaluations
  • *Benefits of the Evaluation Matrix, drawbacks of the Matrix, if not the Matrix, then what?

WHERE WERE GOING
At our May 18
th meeting, the Educator Effectiveness Workgroup will continue to engage in discussions focusing on the following areas for both short- and long-term actions:
  • *Complete a more comprehensive analysis of SB 290, specifically focusing on evidence of    the measures for Professional Practice, Professional Responsibilities, and Student Learning and Growth.
  • *Discuss long-term modifications to OARs Further review and recommendations regarding the use of the Equitable Access to Excellent Educators plan within the ESSA plan.

    At our June 28th meeting, the Educator Effectiveness Workgroup will review the definition of “licensed educator” in Oregon and finalize considerations surrounding the Equitable Access to Education plan and Senate Bill 290. 



Thursday, May 26, 2016

ESSA Workgroups Meet: School Improvement

This is the third of four posts regarding the ESSA workgroups meeting in Oregon to create Oregon's new system under ESSA. These are summaries released from each workgroup. Today we post the School Improvement Workgroup's recap/next steps. Find more information about this workgroup here.   More on the fourth workgroup to come.

School Improvement Workgroup:
Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going
WHERE WEVE BEEN
The School Improvement Workgroup has been charged with developing a proposed framework of supports for schools identified for comprehensive and targeted improvement as well as developing a proposed framework for determining how and when schools will exit identification. To accomplish this, the group established a common understanding of the
various stages of Oregon’s current improvement cycle and the impact on schools currently undergoing improvement efforts.

Work Group Progress
The workgroup has developed strong frames around the need to remove the stigmatization of schools identified for additional supports. This requires balancing a level of flexibility and differentiated approaches that embrace the various contexts for schools and districts as well as holding parties accountable for significant and sustained improvement.

There is also consensus within the group that “school improvement” should not be limited to Federally mandated requirements and that there is great opportunity to go above and beyond the minimum.

Ongoing Discussions
At the April 26
th meeting, workgroup members engaged in discussions focusing on the four major areas of the improvement cycle and discussed guiding principles that might be incorporated into Oregon’s next iteration of its improvement process. Each major area was framed by essential questions and considerations.

Identification: How might schools be identified for improvement supports? Guiding principles discussed were:
  •   *Inclusion of data that include measures of teacher quality / effectiveness
  •   *Multiple measures of student achievement / academic performance (not just Smarter
       Balanced)
  •   *Broader data around school climate and culture (TELL or similar collection)
  •   *Measures that compare how schools / districts serve and support underserved student
       populations, noting the current model compares academic peers, but does not compare
       similar underserved student populations in the same manner
  •   *School-level measures that lead to district identification for improvement supports

    Diagnostic Review and Planning: What role might ODE / LEAs play in the diagnostic review / needs assessment? What are the opportunities and barriers in conducting high- quality, in-depth diagnostic reviews? How might stakeholders be meaningfully and productively engaged in the review process? Guiding principles discussed were:
  •   
  •  *Diagnostic review is the key to success more authentic review yields better plans
  •   *Stronger input and engagement from teachers in planning and implementation
  •   *More engagement from community stakeholders throughout the process
  •   *More engagement from school boards and superintendents including active participation
       in the review, planning and monitoring processes
  •   *Alignment of state expectations, district plans and actions, and school plans and actions

Monitoring: What (additional) data might be used for in-year / implementation monitoring? What resources might be developed in order to support improvement efforts? How might plans be evaluated and approved on an annual basis? Guiding principles discussed were:
  •   *Emphasis on district and school interim monitoring plans
  •   *Differentiated financial resources based on monitoring routines and outcomes
  •   *Reduce paperwork / burden to submit updates and reports
  •   *Review of systems working together: teacher observation / evaluation assessment
       RTI / PBIS climate / culture
  •   *Stronger development of implementation evidence – What will this look like when it’s
    working?

    Exit Criteria and Progressive Interventions: How might we define improvement? Does exit criteria need to mirror identification criteria? Can schools exit improvement status before the end of the identification period? How might we support sustained improvement? What might progressive interventions include for schools who do not demonstrate improvement? Guiding principles discussed were:
  •   *The desire to “exit” is based on the punitive / shaming stigma; if there’s no stigma,       districts / schools might not want to exit
  •   *Schools who demonstrate improvement should be able to exit with continued financial supports
  •   *The notion of “what gets you in, gets you out” works with some added flexibility / adaptability
  •   *Schools should create portfolios of evidence to establish improvement and change
  •   *Broader indicators than identification test scores might get a school identified, but
    more should be required to establish improvement
  •   *Multiple indicators aligned to systems health / improvement
  •   *Stronger ties to educator effectiveness and instruction

    WHERE WERE GOING
    At our May 18
    th meeting, the School Improvement Workgroup will continue to engage in discussions focusing on the various elements of the improvement process including further refinement of the principles discussed in April. Additionally, the workgroup will engage in discussions on some of the federal requirements and flexibility with set-aside funds to support direct services to students.

    By the end of the day, we hope to have some strong proposals for frameworks in each of the four areas as well as clear proposed actions for direct services to students. This process will continue through our final meeting on June 28th.

You can read the update from the Accountability work group here. Read the Standards and Assessment update herepage2image21000

Sunday, May 22, 2016

ESSA Workgroups Meet: Standards and Assessment

This is the second of four posts regarding the ESSA workgroups meeting in Oregon to create Oregon's new system under ESSA. These are summaries released from each workgroup. Today we post the Standards and Assessment Workgroup's recap/next steps. Find more information about this workgroup here.   More on the other workgroups to come. 


Standards & Assessment Workgroup: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going
WHERE WEVE BEEN
The Standards & Assessment Workgroup has been charged with considering how best to support districts in implementing the state’s rigorous content standards and how best to tailor our state’s assessment system to meet both the requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the needs of students and educators to improve student outcomes throughout students’ PK-20 experience.

Work Group Progress
The Standards & Assessment Workgroup identified a long-
term vision for how Oregon’s assessment system can best meet the needs of all students and reached a shared understanding of the purpose of different types of assessments:
 
*Our Long-Term Vision: To most effectively ensure the right fit of assessment tools to the desired outcome, we need a comprehensive and balanced assessment system that includes formative and interim assessments to inform student-level instructional decisions in addition to our current summative assessments that measure systems-level outcomes. To get there we need:
o More time, professional development, and state support around formative and interim assessment practices (not tied to systems accountability)
o Reduced emphasis (and time spent) on the statewide summative assessment (supports systems accountability)


*Summative Assessments (such as Oregon’s current statewide tests) are designed to determine how much knowledge and skills groups of students (e.g. programs, schools, districts, and states) have acquired over a long period of time and are administered after instruction has occurred. These assessments are primarily used for systems (e.g., schools and districts) accountability purposes but may also be used in some instances to measure student-level outcomes.

 *Interim assessments are designed to determine the progress of groups of students based on focused elements of content. While their structure may be similar to summative assessments, they typically focus on a narrower set of content or skills and are administered periodically throughout the year (e.g., at the end of a particular unit).

*Formative assessments are a process that supports learning and is used while a student is still engaged in instruction. Formative assessments are often thought of as assessments for learning rather than assessments of learning.

Ongoing Discussions
At the April 26th meeting, workgroup members engaged in break-out discussions focusing on the following areas for short- or near-term action to help us realize our long-term vision for Oregon’s statewide assessment system:
 *Standards Implementation Resource Needs
At our April 26th meeting, this breakout discussion focused on:
o Ways to increase stakeholder engagement in the creation, revision, and review of standards during the adoption process
o Remaining implementation gap that exists for Oregon’s adopted standards
page1image23696

*High School Flexibility
At our April 26
th meeting, this breakout discussion focused on:
o Implications for ensuring equitable opportunities (not just equal opportunities) and accessibility supports for all students, regardless of which assessment their district administers
o Implications of offering flexibility to higher education entrance and/or placement determinations
o Implications for reducing the summative assessment testing footprint
o Implications for transparency and comparability across school districts
o Values we want to ensure are reflected in the evaluation process should Oregon
decide to approve additional assessments for high school flexibility  
*Accessibility Support Needs
At our April 26th meeting, this breakout discussion focused on:
o Implications for students in poverty, not just students with disabilities or ELs o The need to ensure that test content is culturally familiar for all students
 *Summative Assessment Administration Policies
At our April 26
th meeting, this breakout discussion focused on:
o Ways to possibly reduce test length / testing time for individual students
o Possibly shifting the high school grade of accountability from grade 11 to grade
10, or alternatively providing an early testing option for eligible 10th graders
o Possibly allowing eligible students to target down to an earlier grade for those
students for whom the grade-level assessment is too rigorous and the alternate
assessment is not appropriate
 *Formative & Interim Assessment Resource Needs
At our April 26th meeting, this breakout discussion focused on:
o The need to build capacity for formative and interim assessment practices so
they play a larger role than summative assessment in Oregon’s statewide
assessment system
o The need for including educators in the local development and scoring of
interim assessments
o The implications of incorporating interim assessments into Oregon’s
accountability system down the road

WHERE WERE GOING
At our May 18
th meeting, the Standards & Assessment Workgroup will continue to engage in break-out discussions focusing on the following areas for short- or near-term action:
  •   *Standards Implementation Resource Needs
  •   *High School Flexibility
  •   *Summative Assessment Administration Policies
  •   *Formative & Interim Assessment Resource Needs

    Given the overarching impact and importance of accessibility across these areas, accessibility will be discussed in each of these breakouts moving forward rather than as a stand-alone breakout group. As the discussions in each of these four breakout areas evolve, the full workgroup will have opportunities to share with one another across breakout discussion areas. By the end of the day, we hope to begin formulating considerations for how best to build out Oregon’s statewide assessment system through our State Plan and our implementation of ESSA. This process will continue through our final meeting on June 28th

Saturday, May 21, 2016

ESSA Workgroups Meet: Accountability

This is the first of four posts regarding the ESSA workgroups meeting in Oregon to create Oregon's new system under ESSA. These are summaries released from each workgroup. Today we post the Accountability Workgroup's recap/next steps. Find more information about this workgroup here.   More on the other workgroups to come. 

Accountability Workgroup:
Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

WHERE WEVE BEEN
The Accountability Workgroup has been charged with considering how to design an accountability and reporting system in order to support school improvement efforts and to effectively communicate school quality with Oregon parents and other stakeholders.


Work Group Progress
At our April 26
th meeting, the Accountability Workgroup focused on the overall accountability framework and on which indicators could be added to the accountability and reporting system.

  •   School Ratings versus Multiple Measures Dashboard
We discussed the strengths and weaknesses of a summative school rating as compared to a “dashboard” approach that shows data on a number of indicators, but does not combine them into an overall rating. After a lengthy discussion the group was leaning strongly toward implementing a dashboard accountability system. We believe this can fit within the bounds of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

  •   Qualities of an Accountability Indicator
We discussed the features that a data element should have, if it is to be included in an accountability system: is it meaningful, measurable, and/or actionable, and does it promote equity? In addition, we discussed the fact that including a measure in a high- stakes accountability system can change the nature of the measure itself. This led to a discussion of the importance of distinguishing between the data we include in reporting, and the data that we include in the accountability system.
  •   Indicators of School Quality/Student Success
We identified additional indicators for the accountability system (beyond those currently used) at the Elementary, Middle, and High School levels. Breakout group suggestions included:
o Attendance/Chronic Absenteeism
o College and career credits and certificates earned (IB, AP, CTE, etc.)
o Percentage of students “on-track” at middle and high school
o School climate measures (safety, participation in activities, caring/supportive
adults)
o Re-engagement rates for dropouts
o 6-year and 7-year cohort rates, and GED completion 
o Equity measures 

In addition, the groups identified several measures that could be reported, but not as part of the accountability system (i.e., the state’s method for differentiating schools)
o Access to a full curriculum
o Student surveys including socio-emotional indicators 
o Family engagement


Ongoing Discussions
At the April 26
th meeting, workgroup members who engaged in break-out discussions identified additional topics for discussion. These include:

  •   Designing a Dashboard
One breakout group began to discuss possible designs for dashboards. ODE staff will be mocking up several options to serve as prompts for further discussion. These will be discussed at the May 18 meeting.
  •  Additional Indicators
Workgroup members identified indicators to be considered in a dashboard. At the May 18th meeting the workgroup will:
o Review mockups of dashboards, based on workgroupsinput to date. 
o Review those metrics that are currently available and reported.
o Review those metrics that could be reported, based on available data. 
o Review those metrics that would need new data collections.
o Discuss those metrics that should be pursued as part of the accountability system, and those that should be considered for reporting purposes only.

  •   Participation
ESSA maintains the 95% participation rate requirement for every student group, and it also directs states to include this requirement in its annual differentiation of schools. The workgroup will discuss possible ways to include participation in the system of differentiating schools.
  •   Alternative Schools
We believe that ESSA requires a single system of indicators to differentiate all schools in the state. However, we know that alternative schools are designed to serve students with unique circumstances or challenges, and we need to design an accountability system that can appropriately evaluate these schools. This could include:
o Different weighting for the indicators.
o Additional measures to better reflect successes in these schools. 
o Potential “bonuses” for successes with at-risk students.

WHERE WERE GOING
By the end of the June 28
th meeting, the Accountability Workgroup will put forward considerations regarding:

  • The use and design of a multiple measures dashboard
  • School quality/student success indicators
  • Methods for identifying low performing schools for supports and interventions
  • Identifying modifications of an accountability system to fairly include alternative schools in the identification of low performing schools
  • Determining the role that participation will play in the accountability system 

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





Monday, April 18, 2016

ODE Holding "Reimagine Education" Public Forums Around Oregon

Below please find the schedule for Oregon Department of Education's "Reimagine Education" public forums being held around the state. ODE is taking public input on how citizens would like to see education change with the new flexibility given to states with passage of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The first two meetings have already been held in Milwaukie and Pendleton. Locations for Portland forums will be published and this post updated as soon as the locations are made known to us. Please try to attend one of these!

If you are unable to attend, please send comments, suggestions or questions to ODE at ESSA.Oregon@state.or.us. The focus of the forums are the following three questions.


  1. What school characteristics are most important?
  2. How should we measure school success?
  3. How do we ensure all students are successful?
Here is the schedule for the remainder of the meetings:

Medford
Wednesday, April 20, 2016 – 6:00 pm
Medford School District Education Center (Board Room)

815 S. Oakdale Avenue; Medford, OR 97501

Redmond
Monday, April 25, 2016– 6:00 pm
High Desert Education Service District (Board Room)
2804 SW Sixth Street; Redmond, OR 97756

Salem
Thursday, April 28, 2016– 6:00 pm
Claggett Creek Middle School (Cafeteria)
1810 Alder Drive NE; Keizer, OR 97303

Ontario
Monday, May 2, 2016– 6:00 pm
Four Rivers Cultural Center (River Rooms)
676 SW 5th Avenue; Ontario, OR 97914

Eugene
Tuesday, May 10, 2016– 6:00 pm
South Eugene High School (Cafeteria)
400 East 19th Avenue; Eugene, OR 97401

Portland
Thursday, May 12, 2016– 6:00 pm
Location To Be Determined

Portland
Monday, May 16, 2016– 6:00 pm
Location To Be Determined

Coos Bay
Monday, May 23, 2016– 6:00 pm
Southwestern Oregon Community College (Lakeview Rooms in Hales Center/Empire Hall)
1988 Newmark Avenue; Coos Bay, OR 97420

Hood River
Wednesday, May 25, 2016– 6:00 pm
Best Western Hood River Inn (Columbia Room)
1108 East Marina Way; Hood River, OR 97031

Please help get the word out about these events.
For more information on these education forums, please contact Jenni Knaus at Jenni.Knaus@ode.state.or.us, 503-947-5860 or Meg Koch at meg.koch@state.or.us, 503-947-5990.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Oregon Superintendents Decry Time Spent on SBAC, Ask State for Reasonable Assessments

Oregon Save Our Schools has been made aware of a letter sent by five Oregon superintendents to the Oregon Department of Education and the governor's Chief Education officer in which they ask for relief from the Smarter Balanced Assessments and request that our state use the opportunity given with the new ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) to move away from SBAC.

This news was originally published on our Opt Out Oregon page.

This assessment has always been wrong for our students and our state. We applaud these district leaders for speaking up. Smarter Balanced needs to go!

Here is the letter.

January 28, 2016

To: Lindsey Capps, Chief Education Officer (acting) Dr. Salam Noor, Oregon Department of Education

From: Carole Smith, Portland Public Schools 
Jeff Rose, Beaverton School District
Gustavo Balderas, Eugene School District 
Susan RiekeSmith, Springfield Public Schools 
Colt Gill, Bethel School District

Re: Improving Our Statewide Assessment System 

Dear Mr. Capps and Dr. Noor,

With passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Oregon has a unique opportunity to reassess and improve our system of student assessment and school accountability. The prospect of regaining our reputation for innovative and effective student assessment systems is once again within reach.
We applaud ODE’s efforts to quickly begin an inclusive process to guide Oregon’s response to its new opportunities and responsibilities under ESSA. We would like to join in an open dialogue with school district superintendents and other educators across our state about how we can best assess student learning and impact student achievement.

As the leaders of some of Oregon’s largest school districts, we are keenly aware of the importance of student achievement data. We value the information provided by valid, reliable, standardsaligned assessments that are administered consistently to all groups of students in order to provide critical information to educators, parents, students and the public about our students’ knowledge, skills and learning needs. However, 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.

We ask that serious consideration be given to replacing the current 11th grade state assessments with a standard collegeentrance exam such as the SAT or ACT. Oregon currently sanctions these tests to meet student graduation requirements, but does not include them in school accountability systems. Some states already have made this change with the approval of the U.S. Department of Education, and others are considering following suit with passage of ESSA. We acknowledge that changing the standard high school exam to a collegeentrance exam would require careful consideration of these assessments’ validity to measure progress toward Oregon’s Essential Skills and college and career readiness standards. However, such a change could carry numerous benefits. The amount of testing students undergo in their junior year is a serious concern. Many students in 11th grade complete the Smarter Balanced Assessment, OAKS Science, AP, IB, SAT and ACT tests, in addition to numerous dualcredit exams and teachercreated assessments. For the students who already take the SAT and/or ACT, completing additional state tests can seem redundant, contribute to a sense of overtesting, and further reduce motivation and instructional time.

Designating the SAT or ACT as the statewide high school exam would decrease time spent on testing, open doors of opportunity, improve equity, and contribute to creating a collegegoing culture aligned with Oregon’s 404020 goal. We believe that this change would be in the best interest of Oregon’s students—especially for students who may not otherwise complete college entrance exams.
This opportunity for reflection on assessment and accountability systems may also create space to consider whether current assessments are effective tools for measuring Oregon’s Essential Skills for an Oregon Diploma. This is also an opportunity to consider Oregon’s nine Essential Skills adopted almost 10 years ago. It may be the right time to review their alignment to state standards and the methods we use to ensure students are able to demonstrate Essential Skills prior to graduation.

As discussions progress in ODE’s workgroups, we also ask for thoughtful consideration of the most appropriate and effective assessments for grades 3–8. While the Smarter Balanced assessments improve in many ways on the previous OAKS exams, 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.

There are assessments in existence that correlate well to the Smarter Balanced Assessment and also provide information to teachers and students in a far timelier manner. Perhaps an ideal statewide summative assessment would take less than an hour to administer, it would align with state standards, align with and provide for a balanced system of formative and interim assessments that could inform instruction throughout the year, and validly and reliably measure student learning, all while minimizing the amount of instructional time devoted to testing rather than learning.

We believe that this ideal is possible to achieve. We do understand that the timeline and passionate concerns regarding statewide assessment systems make this new opportunity a “heavy lift” for ODE. We would appreciate the opportunity to continue discussing options to support your efforts to adapt to the changes under ESSA. We also may be able to support the work of ODE by convening a separate, but inclusive, “think tank” to provide thoughtful recommendations to ODE, the State Board, the Governor’s Office, the Legislature, or other interested parties.

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.