By: Hannah Hart
Last year only 90 students of HRV’s 350 juniors took the Smarter Balanced test. Results showed HRV not performing as well as other Oregon students. However, these scores are considered invalid because so few students participated.
The Smarter Balanced test is meant to measure student performance in three categories: math, reading, and writing. Passing scores in these categories are a three. However, to meet the Oregon graduation requirements, students are only required to get a score of two. (Except in writing, in which a three is still required.) Of the 90 HRV students that participated in the test 53 who took the reading, 23 who took the math, and 36 who took the writing passed their essential skills, which are Oregon graduation requirements. This year the seniors who did not take the Smarter Balanced test must make up any essential skills not passed through completion of work samples.
The scores from HRV are low in comparison to other Oregon schools. However, these scores are also invalid; because so few of HRV juniors last year participated in the test the scores received are inaccurate representations of student ability.
HRV Principal Rich Polkinghorn states that the Smarter Balanced scores would have been similar to the OAKs scores. Had more students taken the test Polkinghorn hypothesizes higher scores: “If 67% of the students [statewide] who took the English ELA (English Language Arts) test on Smarter Balanced passed, we typically do 10 or 12% better than the state, so we probably would have had more like 70% or 80% passing the ELA test.”
As far as the amount of students taking the test next year, English teacher Gabe Judah says that it will depend on the opinion of the public, teachers, and schools. Lack of knowledge about the test didn’t aid in building support, but now, as students and teachers have seen it, the test is less obscure. “I think that a lot of students were afraid to take it,” says Judah. “What we have learned in the last couple of weeks is that the students did way better than we thought they would do.”
Many students also did not take the test because they had already completed their necessary essential skills. However, what students may not know is that not taking the test, or failing to perform at their best, has an impact on the school. “As a teacher my tools are whips and carrots, and I basically have to convince my students to take a test they don’t need altruistically. Like you are doing this for the good of the school, not for the good of you,” said Judah about convincing students to take the test. The results from tests like Smarter Balanced are used to evaluate HRV as school. Polkinghorn states on this point, “whether we think it’s the awesomest test ever, or think it’s the worst thing ever, or we’re somewhere in between, that’s the metric that we get evaluated on by the state … It reflects poorly on us.”