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Students Rising to Challenge of Tougher State Tests

4J outperforms expectations and state average, but has much room to grow  

Learn More: Slideshow  

State tests have become more rigorous, and students and teachers in Oregon and Eugene School District 4J are rising to the challenge.

Statewide assessment results for the 2014–15 school year show that students across Oregon performed better than expected on the new language arts and math tests, and Eugene School District 4J students significantly bettered the state average.

Oregon students performed better than predicted based on field tests, exceeding initial projections by an average of 10 percentage points. 4J students and schools did even better, outperforming the Oregon average by more than 8 percentage points.

4J students outperformed most other Oregon districts and exceeded the Oregon average in every grade, subject and group of students, by an even larger margin than in previous years. 4J students are demonstrating the deeper thinking and communication skills they have been learning in the classroom.

The data also show that Oregon schools have a long way to grow to meet goals for student achievement. The new assessments raise the bar to align with higher expectations for college and career readiness. As anticipated, fewer Oregon students met the new, higher standard than met the lower standard set in previous years. The results in Eugene School District 4J are strong compared with expectations and with the statewide average, but there is still much room to grow to meet the district’s goal of helping all students succeed.

A level of 3 or 4 on the new state tests shows that students are on track for college and career readiness. In English language arts, 54.1% of Oregon students and 62.5% of 4J students met the new, higher proficiency standard and achieved a level 3 or 4 on the new state tests. In mathematics, 40.8% of Oregon students and 49.1% of 4J students demonstrated proficiency. The new tests’ results continue to show opportunity and achievement gaps between groups of students.

State test results are a useful “temperature check,” just one of many ways that student learning is assessed. They provide useful information for parents, schools and districts. 4J parents will receive individual student reports in the mail to provide information about results.

The tests are low-stakes or no-stakes for elementary and middle school students. Students’ grades and grade advancement are not affected by test results. High school students can meet graduation requirements through the state tests, or by alternate means.

The Eugene School District is pleased with overall student effort and performance in this first year of raising the bar on statewide assessments of student learning, and plans to use the state test data to help improve student achievement over time. It is 4J’s goal to help all students graduate high school ready for college and careers.



Each spring, students in grades 3–8 and 11 take statewide standardized tests to assess their knowledge in the areas of reading and writing (English language arts or ELA) and math. Students also are tested in science once in elementary, middle and high school. These tests are all part of the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS). Oregon students have participated in OAKS computer-based tests for many years.

The new Smarter Balanced assessments, developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium partnership of many states, replaced the earlier OAKS state tests of math and English language arts last spring.

The state tests have changed to assess students’ learning based on the new, more rigorous set of academic standards for language arts and math, called the Common Core State Standards, that Oregon adopted in 2010. Academic standards are expectations for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. The new standards are designed to better prepare students for college and careers.

The new Smarter Balanced tests of math and language arts were developed to closely match the content and skills schools are expected to teach students at each grade level, and assess how well students grasp these standards and can demonstrate their knowledge. The new tests are not just multiple-choice “bubble” tests. They measure more complex, real-world skills such as critical thinking, writing, and problem solving, through a set of questions that include selected response (select one or more responses for a set of options), technology-enhanced (editing text, drawing an object, etc.), constructed response (students write a short answer or explanation for their response), and performance tasks (conducting research, reading and analyzing a written passage, etc.).

Oregon also adopted new science standards, called the Next Generation Science Standards, in March 2014. A new state assessment aligned to the new standards is expected to replace the current science test within the next few years.

Learn More: Slideshow About 4J’s 2014–15 State Test Results

More About the Smarter Balanced Assessments 
More About the Common Core State Standards 
More About the Next Generation Science Standards 

Detailed Assessment Results for Schools, Districts & State 

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