Wednesday, August 09, 2006

News Flash! Oregon's tests are too easy!

For about a decade I have been shouting in the wilderness about the fact that Oregon's statewide tests are being manipulated to show test score growth that isn't really there.

I've written about it in my BrainstormNW column, on this blog, and in the Oregonian. I've commissioned a statistical study done by an OSU economist that showed the elementary math test score increases are phony. I've authored and personally lobbied legislative solutions to the problem. I've spoken about it my radio show time and again. I ran a statewide campaign for Superintendent of Public Instruction with the assessment system as a central issue. I've met with assessment experts all over the nation to discuss it, including Oregon's own assessment "experts."

Every single thing I have done has been opposed by the Oregon Department of Education bureaucrats, and basically ignored by the Oregonian.

Throughout this time, as I repeatedly predicted, Oregon's tests have time and again been proven to be unworkable. They have had to throw out entire years worth of tests because of validity problems. They have been threatened by the federal government because their reliability was not up to snuff.

I've pointed out that the big gains in Oregon's test scores at the elementary level are not validated by Oregon scores on other tests. I've pointed out that despite the rhetoric of Oregon's so-called 21st Century School Act, Oregon SAT test results have lagged the gains of other states.

I've pointed out that it makes no sense at all to allow Oregon bureaucrats to design the tests that measure the effectiveness of the school reform efforts that they are in charge of implementing.

It has fallen on deaf ears.

Today we learn in the Oregonian that the state has set the bar very low for children to "meet standard" at the elementary level, which is why it appears that our elementary schools do very well while our middle schools do poorly. Fifteen years after our genius bureaucrats started cooking up these tests, they finally admit that maybe the roughly 50 percentage point gain in students meeting standard might be caused by lowering the bar.

And now they are going to appoint a panel to review Oregon's test? What a crock of bull.

We don't need another "fact-finding" committee. We need a fact facing committee.

And we need the Oregonian to at long last report this long term story honestly. They have been complicit in the coverup for years. The fact is, the Oregon Department of Education has wasted billions of dollars to perpetrate a fraud on the people of Oregon, and the Oregonian sat idly by and gave them a pass.

There is no excuse. The only question is will they allow it to continue?


todd said...


Don Smith said...

Get Reinhard to publish a column about it.

gus miller said...

Doesn't Portland have its separate PALT achievement tests, the results of which have to be calibrated for comparison purposes to the Oregon Tests?

Strikes me as a lot of costly redundancy, especially when the nationally-normed Stanford and Iowa Achievement tests have been used in most states for years.