Testing in Oregon: An Overview
A GreatSchools guide to standardized tests
By GreatSchools Staff
Although test results are only one measure of student achievement, they have become increasingly important in assessing student learning. In 2008-2009 Oregon used the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) to test students in grades 3 through 8 and 10 in reading and math; in grades 4, 7 and 10 in writing; and in grades 5, 8 and 10 in science. Schools had the option of administering a social studies test to students in grades 5, 8 and 10. The OAKS is a standards-based test that measures specific skills defined for each grade by the state of Oregon.
How are the tests scored?
OAKS results show the level of proficiency a student demonstrates in each of the subject areas tested. Students are rated at one of five performance levels: exceeds, meets, nearly meets, low or very low. The goal is for all students to meet or exceed state standards.
Which results are included on GreatSchools profiles?
For each subject tested, the combined percentage of students scoring at the level of meets and exceeds is displayed.
Why do the tests matter?
Oregon test results provide an indication of whether students are making progress toward mastery of state content standards. While the state assessment scores do not affect grade-level promotion or retention, individual school districts may implement academic improvement plans for under-performing students. The state assessments are also used by teachers to identify students who need additional assistance.
It is important to be aware of both your child's score on the assessment and the overall score for her school. If your child scores below the standards, contact the teacher to discuss getting additional assistance, and to find out how you can support your child's learning at home.
Test results are important for schools in Oregon because the state uses them to identify strengths as well as areas for improvement. If the school's overall scores are low, ask what steps the school is taking to raise achievement levels for all students, and what you can do to help. If your child is in a failing school, ask what our options are for transferring and obtaining supplemental services.
A few parting words
Although test results can be an indicator of what's happening in the classroom, they don't tell you everything about the quality of a particular school. Always look at more than one measure when judging school performance and visit in person before making any final assessment.
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