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New, tougher testing coming to Oregon students


The Oregon Department of Education held an informational forum Thursday night at the COCC campus in Redmond so parents, educators and students could learn more about the new Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Oregon students are preparing for a new standardized test. The Smarter Balanced Assessment uses long-form questions and comprehensive answers to test students at a higher level.

The new assessment is also in line with the Common Core standards which have been adopted by more than 40 states, including Oregon. Teachers have been preparing students for months for the assessment this spring.

“I’m kind of nervous for it,” Ponderosa Elementary fifth-grader Elizabeth Bratcher said.

On the Smarter Balanced Assessment, students only get one chance at passing. The assessment replaces the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) tests, which allowed students multiple chances to pass per year.

However, if a student does not pass the Smarter Balanced Assessment, they have other options.

“They can also use standardized tests,” Derek Brown, director of assessment with the Oregon Department of Education, said at Thursday night’s forum. “They can also submit work samples.”

The new assessment went through a pilot test in 2012 and a field test last year. The 2014-15 school year will be the first with the assessment in operation.

“The Common Core standards represent, in many ways, high-level thinking skills,” Brown said. “The assessment reflects that by asking students to engage a little differently.”

Testing can begin as early as March 10. Resources are available online to better prepare for the assessment. For more information, visit:

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