Oregon schools record poorest test scores in 5 years

Education

Only 40% of students across grades 3 through 8 have mastered math

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Newly-released scores show Oregon schools have recorded their poorest performance in the five-year history of Oregon’s current reading, writing and math tests this spring.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the scores released Thursday indicate only 40% of students across grades three through eight have mastered math and just over half can read and write proficiently.

So many high school students sat out the nationally benchmarked tests, known as Smarter Balanced exams, that their results, which were down sharply in reading and writing, are not reliable.

State schools chief Colt Gill cautioned against reading too much into the test results, noting that an in-depth end-of-year test over reading, writing and math doesn’t capture the breadth of subjects that students should learn in a well-rounded curriculum.

Colt and others say they are optimistic that a massive infusion of new funding for public schools and early childhood education starting in fall 2020 will pay off.

Oregon test switch

Five years ago Oregon switched from its own state tests to one crafted by a national organization, Smarter Balanced. Most states use their own tests.

The yearly tests in math, English and writing are tougher than the ones Oregon used to administer. The idea was to try and better prepare students for college by stepping up the curriculum and learning process.

But the test show there are problems. Only a few Oregon schools got at least 90% of their 3rd-graders to perform well on the reading test.

The McMinnville School District is doing better than many others in raising the test scores in math among low income students. Kourtney Ferrua, the Curriculum Director for the district, said that’s because they work individually with students.

“If a student is not getting a concept yet we are coming together and figure out how we simultaneously fill that hole but make sure they are still moving forward,” Ferrua said. “So they have access to all grade level content and are not missing because they are behind.”

KOIN 6 News reporter Lisa Balick contributed to this report

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