The Assessment Team is committed to developing a balanced approach to our assessment system over the coming years, including support for formative assessment practices, interim/benchmark assessments, and summative assessments. Oregon's Statewide Assessment System (OSAS) currently includes summative assessments administered annually by subject matter and grade. Pursuant to federal and state accountability requirements, Oregon public schools test students in English language arts and math in grades 3 through 8 & 11 and science in grades 5, 8, & 11. Additional required assessments include an English language proficiency assessment for English learners (ELs) and the Oregon Extended Assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities. These summative assessments used for accountability are customized for the needs of Oregon students; test development for these assessments has included Oregon teachers in all feasible aspects (e.g., item development, scoring rubric validation, standard setting).
The Assessment Team has developed several training modules to support the development of teacher use and understanding of formative assessment practices, performance assessment, and interpretation and use of interim/benchmark assessments, available within our Student-Centered Assessment section to help guide instruction. We plan to increase our support of these practices over the coming years. In addition to these accountability assessments, schools administer local performance assessments (to fulfill the Local Performance Assessment Requirement) to give students feedback on their learning and academic progress, as well as provide opportunities for students in select grades to take national assessments like the NAEP and PSAT.
Understanding Student Assessment
Assessments are an integral part of education in our state; in fact, they are included in the state’s definition of instruction in OAR 581-022-0102(30)(a). At their most basic level, assessments are the tools and practices we use to collect and interpret the information we need to make decisions in everyday life. Health professionals use instruments like thermometers and x-rays to monitor the health of their patients and make recommendations. Scientists collect and analyze water samples to determine the quality of our streams and lakes. In education, teachers and administrators use state assessments, work samples, and other forms of assessment to measure how well students are learning and determine how best to support them moving forward.
Each assessment or assessment practice within the OSAS has a unique purpose, but all support stakeholders in understanding student achievement. Summative assessments, which are assessments of learning that has occurred, are designed to evaluate systems level patterns, akin to looking through a telescope at large planetary systems that do not change rapidly over time. Interim/benchmark assessments and formative assessment practices are assessments for learning; they are designed to guide instruction. Interim/benchmark assessments provide a seasonal gauge of learning, like looking through binoculars at aspects of the environment that change slowly over the course of several months. Formative assessment practices are designed to evaluate individual students in active learning environments, akin to the level of detail one would expect by looking through a microscope at busy, moving organisms that change moment-to-moment.
Quality assessments provide results that are used to inform a broad range of decisions at the classroom, district, and state levels:
- Students and their parents use assessment results to check mastery of key learning targets;
- Teachers use formative assessment practices and interim/benchmark assessments in the classroom to identify gaps in student learning and adjust instruction;
- Teachers and administrators use summative assessment results to review learning patterns annually, to determine systems-level changes that might be required from year-to-year;
- State and local leaders use summative assessment results to make important policy decisions, like where and how to invest in Oregon schools and how to hold schools accountable for the outcomes of those investments.