- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Portland public schools won’t comply with state rules calling for the district to set goals in three subject areas as part of a switch to a new standardized test.

The school board’s decision Tuesday makes the Portland district the first in the state to ignore part of the “achievement compacts” the state requires, The Oregonian (https://bit.ly/1u5Bdq8) reported.

The district won’t fill out the state forms for third-grade reading, fifth-grade math and eighth-grade math, in essence saying the district won’t be judged based on student performance on the new Smarter Balanced test.

The test is aligned with the Common Core movement, which has caused controversy nationwide after being sponsored by governors, supported by federal incentives and widely adopted five years ago. It’s designed to raise achievement in mathematics, reading and writing.

Conservatives have attacked it as an intrusion by the federal government. Teachers unions have argued that the tests have been introduced haphazardly, so it’s unfair to use the results in teacher evaluations.

In Portland, officials argue that state officials haven’t said what the passing grades will be for the new tests, so it’s impossible to set goals.

“We’re at this juncture where they’re asking us for accountability to use data-driven decision making, but they cannot provide us with any data to make this decision,” board member Greg Belisle said.

Oregon Department of Education spokeswoman Crystal Greene said district officials have no reason to fear the repercussions of failing to meet the achievement compact goals they set this year. The state doesn’t punish districts for falling short.

State officials have not said whether the Portland district will be penalized for ignoring the requirement to submit the forms.

Last year, the Portland schools missed its target on all three subject areas in which district officials are refusing to set goals this year. Other school districts across the nation have seen test scores drop dramatically after introducing Common Core-aligned state tests.

A team of Portland teachers and administrators is expected to create an alternative system for measuring students’ progress.


Information from: The Oregonian, https://www.oregonlive.com

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