ASHLAND, Ore. — For the next year, students in the Ashland School District will be opting out of Oregon's standardized testing unless families decide otherwise.
The Ashland School Board passed a resolution on Monday, authorizing a one-year change of practice for the state Smarter Balanced assessment system, defaulting all students to "opt-out" status. Parents can choose to opt-in for their students if they prefer, but it will not be the default this year.
"If a family wants their student to participate in the state assessment, an opportunity will be provided," the District said in a statement.
The state of Oregon has asked the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver on state assessments this year due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on learning, and the limited opportunities for on-site learning. Ashland's resolution is intended to be in keeping with Oregon's stance.
"If administered, state assessments could take up a significant amount of the remaining on-site class time for students that have returned in hybrid," the Ashland School District continued. "Students just now returning to classrooms would come back to find themselves participating in hours of formal assessments."
Typically, Oregon law requires students to participate in state testing unless parents decide to opt-out for their students. On normal years, students are encouraged to take the SBAC assessment because it can help districts track student progress and the efficacy of educational programs.
“This year is different. Kids are just now returning to school and now testing is required? They should be reconnecting and experiencing school in person," said School Board Chair Eva Skuratowicz. "We already have growth data through local assessments that provide teachers with important information on supporting learners – the state assessment doesn’t do anything for kids this year.”
The Oregon Board of Education is expected to vote soon to waive the essential skills graduation requirement for current Juniors in the class of 2022, ASD said. The assessment requirement was waived for the classes of 2020 and 2021 last year.
Parents should receive an email notice from the District allowing them to opt-in if they prefer that their child do the state testing. Those who do not want to opt-in will not need to respond.
"We believe most parents want their kids in class and learning this year, and not taking valuable class time with the state assessments,” Skuratowicz said.