Students Assessment & State Testing
The Importance of Standardized Testing and Doing Our Very Best
We believe in providing a quality, well-rounded education for all students. Having rich, inquiry based lessons that are both engaging and rigorous leads to strong 21st century learners. Additionally, providing music, art, and quality electives, tutoring support, enrichment activities - all lends itself to providing a rich learning experience.
But when it comes to ensuring our children are growing and progressing in math and literacy - two very important subjects our students need in life - with their peers in neighboring districts, across the state, or even the country - how do we know we are being successful? When it comes to college admittance and success in college, or being considered for a job, don’t we want our students to be equally as competitive?
While it doesn’t tell the whole picture of a child’s ability, testing students each year in math and reading is one really important indicator that gives us important information we use to improve our programs.
We know for example, that Jefferson students are scoring far below their peers across the state in mathematics based on the state test. Is this merely a test taking issue? Is it a failure to deliver math in a way that promotes growth? To get at the answer to these questions, we are currently looking at all of the possible variables and aggressively using a K-12 system-wide approach to change this statistic.
But we must all come to an agreement that having our children take the SBAC test, and trying their very best, is important for Jefferson. Regardless of how one feels about state tests, or the SBAC test in particular, we are showing that we are not preparing our students to compete in the world. For me, this is unacceptable. There is no reason why the children in Jefferson can’t have a wonderful well-rounded education, and be the best readers and mathematicians in the state. No reason at all. Does this test tell the whole story? No. Is there great learning taking place in our schools? Yes, absolutely. But saying we are great and providing a wonderful education and then having our students under-perform in all categories alongside their peers in Oregon, makes we wonder… Are we taking this test seriously enough? Are we setting up our students for success or failure? Are we doing everything we can to make sure our students are learning at high levels?
If we are providing a great education, then the tests should bare that out as well.
To change our scores, we need to come together as a team. That means, parents are supporting this at home, teachers are preparing students in both content and test taking skills, and administrators are prioritizing testing as an important focus. Not THE focus, but an important one nonetheless.
Why is Testing Important?
- Jefferson pride (We’re just as good as other school districts)
- Attracting new families to Jefferson, and thus providing more funding for schools
- Preparing our students to compete in the world
- Ensuring that what and how we are teaching is being effective
What can you do to support testing at home?
- Feed your child a good breakfast on the morning of the test
- Have them get plenty of rest
- Talk to your child about the importance of the tests (Jefferson pride; competing with other districts and showing we can be just as good)
Adjustments we are making as a school district
- Each school has made homework agreements that are posted and available upon request. They have agreed to not give large projects during the testing window so students can focus on being successful.
- Schools are placing emphasis on test taking skills and having students practice (we don’t send our athletic teams into games without practicing and knowing the rules. Why would we do that to our budding scholars?)
- We are piloting a new K-12 math curriculum and meeting as a 6-12 math team to coordinate our efforts
- We will be looking at our data and taking assessments along the way to see that students are comprehending the material.
- We have created goals in our Strategic Plan and are focusing on growing in these areas
- We are working to improve school wide systems so that students have more supports
- We have created a list of high school tutors to help students in elementary or middle school, or even their peers at high school understand difficult concepts.
- For those students in the AVID elective, we offer a regular tutorial that allows students to choose points of confusion around math and other areas, and get peer assistance.
- We are implementing across all schools, an organizational structure to help students learn to be successful students.