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State Testing

Assessment is how student learning is measured, from quick teacher check-ins and quizzes, to final course exams and state tests.

All public schools in the U.S. are required to systematically assess student learning and report participation and results in school accountability systems. Students in Oregon are assessed periodically to measure proficiency in state and district standards, including completing statewide assessments in certain grades. Statewide assessment results provide important information for students, parents, teachers, schools and districts.

What happened with state testing in the 2019–20 school year?

State tests were suspended for the 2019–20 school year, during the state-mandated closure of school buildings due to the coronavirus pandemic. In this exceptional situation, the U.S. Department of Education allowed a waiver to federal requirements for statewide assessments and accountability.

The Essential Skills requirements for high school graduation, which most students meet by showing proficiency on statewide assessments, also was suspended for students earning diplomas by August 31, 2020.

What is the Oregon Statewide Assessment System?

The Oregon Statewide Assessment System, or OSAS, refers to Oregon’s main statewide tests (formerly Oregon Assessment of Knowledge & Skills, OAKS).

The purpose of these tests, administered annually to students in grades 3–8 and 11, is to assess district, school, and individual student progress toward meeting Oregon’s state standards in English language arts (reading and writing), math and science. In some other districts, students in a few grades also complete the state test in social sciences.

In 2020–21, the statewide testing window in which Oregon schools will administer state tests is between Jan. 5 and June 4, 2021.

What are the Smarter Balanced assessments?

Oregon adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010, replacing our previous state standards in math and language arts. Since the state’s learning standards in math and language arts changed, the statewide assessments of students’ learning in these areas also changed.

Oregon’s old assessments of math, reading and writing were replaced by new assessments of math and language arts in 2015. The new tests were developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a state-led partnership including Oregon and about 20 other states. These state tests may be referred to as the Smarter Balanced assessments or as OSAS or OAKS, as they are part of the Oregon Statewide Assessment System.

What are the tests like?

The new generation of assessments of math and English language arts are not one-size-fits-all multiple-choice tests. Students’ knowledge and skills are assessed in a variety of ways, including selected-response questions, open-response questions and performance tasks.

These state tests are computer adaptive testing. The computer program adjusts the difficulty of questions throughout the test based on the student’s responses. For example, a student who answers a question correctly will be asked a more challenging question next, while a student who answers a question incorrectly will then get an easier question. By adapting to the student’s responses as the test is taking place, the assessment can present questions targeted to the student’s knowledge and ability level.

Check out a practice test (log in as guest, select grade, and choose a practice test (PT) or training test) 

What do these tests mean for students?

A student’s scores have no consequences for their grades, credits, or advancement to the next grade, although they may be used to inform appropriate course placement.

To graduate from high school, the state tests are the most common way for students meet Oregon’s graduation requirements in reading, writing and mathematics. If students do not meet the requirements in this way, they must demonstrate their proficiency in these essential skills through an alternative assessment—either a different standardized test, or taking an additional class to complete work samples that meet the requirements.

Assessment results provide important information for students, parents, teachers, schools and districts. The Smarter Balanced tests provide more detailed and useful information about each student’s learning and progress toward being ready for college and career than the old OAKS tests did. Parents receive more information about their students’ progress toward being ready for the next school level, college and careers. Teachers, schools and districts receive more useful diagnostic information that can be used to support individual students and improve instructional programs.

How long do state tests take?

The statewide assessments are not time-limited tests, so testing times vary. The length is typically shorter for younger students and longer for older students.

Most students who participated in field testing of the language arts and math tests completed each of the two tests within about 3½ hours total. Some students will finish faster than this. Some students will take longer and can have as much time as they need. Each test is spread out over multiple sessions and days, not taken all at once.

Students take the state tests of math and language arts only once in a given year. Previously many students completed the state tests multiple times each year.

What supports are available to meet students’ individual needs?

In addition to the adaptive nature of the tests, Oregon’s statewide assessments include opportunities for supports referred to as universal tools, designated supports and specific accommodations. For every student with an individualized education program, the individual accommodations and supports are identified and listed as part of the annual IEP process. If you have questions, please contact your case manager.

Can students opt out of state testing?

Yes. Under Oregon law, a parent or adult student may opt out of Oregon’s summative statewide assessments of math and language arts for any reason, by submitting a form provided each year by the Oregon Department of Education. Parents can submit a written request to opt out of science testing on the basis of accommodating a student’s disability or religious beliefs.

To meet graduation requirements, high school students who opt out of completing state tests will need to demonstrate their proficiency in the essential skills of reading, writing and mathematics through an alternative assessment or enroll in a class to complete work samples.

Students who opt out of state tests are counted as “not proficient” in their school’s reported test results, beyond a certain threshold.

2019–20 annual state testing notice (English / Español)
2019–20 state testing opt-out form (English / Español) — published by state later in school year 

Learn more4J_SmarterBalancedPresentation_Feb2015_Thumbnail_English_small

• Check out a practice test

News: Smarter Balanced tests waive some college placement exams

Statewide assessments and school accountability

Smarter Balanced Assessment Presentation (English / Español) (2014)

Frequently Asked Questions: Common Core State Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessments (2014)

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium