As we start to look ahead to Spring, we are beginning to plan for state testing at Fern Ridge Middle School. Over the last few years, students in Fern Ridge and throughout the state have had the opportunity to take the Smarter Balanced assessment in math and language arts. Unlike tests that parents might remember where we just filled in the bubble, the SBAC tests ask students to apply real world critical thinking, writing, reasoning, communication, and problem solving skills. At the middle school level, the test is designed to measure how “on track” your child is to graduate from high school. At the high school level, passing these tests is a requirement for an Oregon diploma.
We know that an end-of-the-year test cannot possibly tell us everything about your child’s academic progress. However, the results do act as a snapshot of your child’s strengths and areas for improvement and can be used as a way to ensure he or she is getting the supports he or she needs. Additionally, the tests help the Fern Ridge School District’s efforts to equitably distribute resources and support student learning. When fewer students take the test, we are left with an incomplete and inaccurate picture of how our students are performing, and this limits our ability to address issues, better serve students, and continue to improve our educational system. The participation of your student is greatly appreciated.
We discourage opting-out of the exams for several reasons:
1. The test provides critical information to parents and families on how “on track” their child is for high school graduation. If the results show that they are not on track , families and the school can work together to get them back on track.
2. It allows them the chance to get familiar with the format/style of the test before that critical 11th grade testing year. As stated above, the SBAC is a different kind of test than students may be familiar with. The more opportunities they have to take the test, the more comfortable they will become and their performance will improve.
3. It’s a challenge. We know that students who take on challenges and master them grow in confidence…. especially those challenges they initially perceive as hard or difficult. From first learning to ride a bike, every challenge taken on and met since has helped to build your child’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
4. The test gives the school important information to on where our needs are and how we can plan for improvement.
While we discourage opting-out of the exams for these reasons and more, there is a form that allows you to opt your child out of testing for the 2018-19 school year. The form is available here: 2018-19 Opt Out Form
Because state testing will take place during class time, students who opt out will be given alternative assignments during testing. These alternative assignments will mimic the test in terms of content, difficulty, and duration so that students who opt out will still have required work to complete.
Should you wish to opt your child out, please submit this form to the main office. You can read more about your rights to opt-out here: http://tinyurl.com/OR-HB2655.
At Fern Ridge Middle School and in the Fern Ridge School District, we are deeply committed to ensuring each and every student in our schools has the supports he or she needs to achieve at high levels and graduate prepared for his or her next steps. Our ultimate goal is to make sure that all students are set up to be successful from grade to grade and that will remain the focus of our district throughout the rest of the school year.
If you have general questions or want more information about the end-of-year tests, please do not hesitate to contact the school directly. We also encourage you to reach out to your child’s teacher(s) with any questions you may have about your student’s progress.
For more information about state assessments in general, check out the links below: