Students in Oregon public schools take assessments created by the Assessment unit in the Oregon Department of Education. The documents found here show the technical quality of those assessments. In general, assessments need to demonstrate that:
- They measure what they are supposed to measure. In this context assessments must measure how well students have mastered state content standards
- Scores or ratings are consistent. Results must mean the same thing regardless of when the assessment was taken, where it was administered, and what group is being assessed.
These are the elements of test validity. Assessment professionals currently regard validity as a unitary concept that hinges on how scores and ratings are used. That is, assessments are considered valid for specific purposes, not as entities within themselves. The 1999 Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing represents professional consensus about appropriate test use in education and psychology. The standards were created by a collaboration of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the American Psychological Association (APA) and the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME). The Oregon Department of Education has contracted an independent expert, Dr. Thomas Halydena from Arizona State university, to evaluate state assessments according to the principles in the Standards. This report, describes ODE's policies, practices, and results in the light of these professional standards.
For more information about professional standards for assessment quality, see the AERA Position Statement on High-Stakes Testing in Pre-K-12 Education.
What is the Oregon Statewide Assessment System?
Assessments that comprise the Oregon statewide assessment system (OSAS) are designed to meet public purposes set forth in key pieces of legislation. In broad strokes, Oregon's assessments can be used to show how well individual students have mastered Oregon standards and to demonstrate the effectiveness of schools and districts in preparing students to meet standards. Test reporting and construction are therefore closely linked to state standards.
The OSAS consists of three broad areas:
Knowledge and Skill Tests
- Assessments that present the student with a series of questions or problems. The student responds on an answer sheet and responses are scored by machine.
On-demand state Performance Assessments
- Students give extended written responses to open-ended topics or complex problems provided by the state. Trained raters at state-run scoring sites rate student work using the state scoring guide.
Classroom Work Samples
- Students respond to locally provided topics or complex problems. Their work is rated by teachers in their own schools or districts using state scoring guides.
The technical information provided here pertains only to knowledge and skills tests and performance assessments. Districts and schools are responsible for ascertaining the quality of work samples.
- Executive Memorandum 001-2006-07: Notice to Districts: Standards and Assessment Peer Review
Oregon is progressing through the US Dept. of Ed Standards and Assessment Peer Review.
- AERA Position Statement on High-Stakes Testing in PreK-12 Education
Oregon's Educational Act for the 21st Century
Improving America's Schools Act (IASA)
In 1994 the U.S. Congress passed the Improving America's Schools Act (IASA), a revision of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Title I of IASA required states to develop a plan to be approved by the U.S. Secretary of Education. In the plans, States were to demonstrate that they had developed challenging content and performance standards in at least mathematics and language arts. States were then expected to adopt or create a set of high quality assessments that measure student performance on the state standards. Since Oregon had already embarked on the development of standards and aligned assessments under the Oregon Educational Act for the 21st Century, the federal requirement was already largely satisfied.
Under IASA, the results of state assessments are to be used to measure the yearly performance of schools and districts. This was part of a broad effort to show the public that schools are accountable for educational results. In 1999 the Oregon Legislature mandated school report cards. These report cards are used to satisfy the IASA requirement for evaluating schools and districts. IASA also mandated that states display assessment results broken out by demographic group. The intent of this is to assure that success of the whole does not mask problems with specific populations. In addition, assessments had to be constructed so that they would be valid for populations that had previously been excluded from assessment. This meant that states needed to plan for inclusion of special education and limited English proficient students in assessment and accountability.
On June 28, 2001 Oregon received final approval of its system of standards and assessment from the U.S. Secretary of Education.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Policies for Implementing Legislative Requirements
- Academic Content Standards
Academic Content Standards identify what Oregon students are expected to know and be able to do in the content areas of English language arts, mathematics, health, physical education, science, second language, social sciences, and the arts.
- Achievement Standards
These achievement standards define how well students must perform on state assessments leading to the high school diploma.