Lawmakers Pare Down Assessment Testing
Byline: Anne Williams The Register-Guard
The future of Oregon's student assessment system just got simpler, thanks to a new law that limits required testing to three key subjects.
The law, which took effect July 1, drops social studies, second language and the arts from the list of subjects in which students have to pass tests to earn a Certificate of Initial Mastery, or CIM, at graduation.
Testing in those subjects was scheduled to be phased in during the next several years.
Instead, the requirements will stay as they are, with students having to show proficiency in math, language arts and science to earn a CIM.
School districts are allowed to offer CIM "endorsements" in other subject areas, but it's optional.
Gov. Ted Kulongoski said winnowing the list of subjects covered by the CIM was a positive step.
"It will actually bring focus with parents, school boards and the citizens of this state to what we're trying to achieve with the certificate of initial mastery," Kulongoski said during a re-enacted signing of House Bill 2744 in his office Thursday morning.
He actually signed the bill June 11.
Included in the Legislature's 1995 reworking of the Oregon Educational Act for the 21st Century, the CIM is not required for graduation.
In addition to meeting benchmarks on tests given in 10th grade, high school students must complete eight work samples - classroom assignments that are scored to specific state guidelines - in those same subject areas.
That 1995 legislation also introduced the Certificate of Advanced Mastery, or CAM, which emphasizes learning through real-life application of skills in a career interest area.
HB 2744 delays to 2008 the required implementation of the CAM, although most local high schools already offer them.
The bill enjoyed broad support from education groups and Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo.
"This puts to use what we've already spent a lot of time trying to develop," said Kris Kain, a Coos Bay teacher and president of the Oregon Education Association. "Plus, it does match up with the intent of the (federal) No Child Left Behind Act."
Springfield High School English teacher Pat Albright called the bill a small step in the right direction, but he noted that it changes nothing for those teachers who must test in language, math and science. …