PORTLAND — Twenty-one Oregon districts ranging from small to the state's largest failed to meet federal testing targets for Smarter Balanced assessments, according to state data.
The launch of new Common Core aligned assessments last school year sparked opt-out movements across the country. States are required to test at least 95 percent of students overall and in every group, such as low-income students and English Language Learners — to fit the No Child Let Behind law and receive federal education dollars.
In Oregon, which has nearly 200 school districts, the Smarter Balanced tests replaced the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills starting during the 2014-2015 school year, in grades three to eight and 11 in English language arts and math.
Rates fell below 95 percent in at least one subject area for 21 Oregon districts, according to the Oregon Department of Education. In 2013-2014, only two districts missed the mark in a subject area and none fell below subject targets the year prior.
Oregon's schools chief Salam Noor told superintendents and principals in an email that $344 million in funding could be at risk. This year about 95 percent of Oregon students took the tests but rates for African American students and students with special needs dropped to 93 percent.
The U.S. Department of Education said in a statement that the department has not yet had to withhold funding due to participation requirements because states either fit the law or addressed low rates at specific schools or districts.
The department has not made any decisions in relation to Oregon's latest participation rates, said Press Secretary Dorie Turner Nolt.
"We have made no decisions, and as we have said many times, continue to look to states to ensure districts and schools are meeting the law," she said.
Oregon districts that missed participation targets in at least one subject range from small, rural areas to Portland. For example, in Gaston, near Forest Grove, 340 students were scheduled to take exams and about 92 percent did. And out of the approximately 25,100 students set to test in Portland Public Schools, roughly 87 percent took assessments.
Additional test participation data and scores for Oregon schools, districts, and other student categories will be released Sept. 17 along with final test score results. Preliminary figures showed students performed better than expected.
From the Associated Press
Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com