Testing Defined

  • Assessments are an integral part of education in our state. At their most basic level, assessments are the tools we use to collect the information we need to make decisions in everyday life. Health professionals use instruments like thermometers and x-rays to monitor the health of their patients. Scientists collect and analyze water samples to determine the quality of our streams and lakes. In education, teachers and administrators use state tests, work samples, and other forms of assessments to measure how well students are learning and determine how best to support them moving forward.

    Quality assessments provide results that are used to inform a broad range of decisions at the classroom, district, and state levels:

    • Teachers use formative and interim assessments in the classroom to identify gaps in student learning and adjust instruction;
    • Students and their parents use formative, interim, and summative assessments to check mastery of key learning targets;
    • State and local leaders use summative assessment results to make important policy decisions, like where and how to invest in Oregon schools and how to hold schools accountable for the outcomes of those investments.

    FORMATIVE ASSESSMENTS (assessments for learning) are processes applied during teaching and include tools a teacher may use to collect feedback about a student to help guide and improve that student's learning, such as observation, homework, and quizzes.

    INTERIM OR BENCHMARK ASSESSMENTS are given at set intervals throughout the school year and are used to identify gaps in student learning, evaluate programs, and predict success on summative tests.

    SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENTS (assessments of learning) are given at the end of instruction to gather and report evidence of what was learned, evaluate student performance against specific content standards, and assign grades. These tests are designed to provide information regarding the level of student, school, or program success at an end point in time, and include end-of-unit and end-of-year state tests.

    Communicating about changes to Oregon's statewide testing system is an important part of keeping our families informed about and engaged in their children's education. The following resources are intended to support school and district-wide communications plans to ensure the greatest spread of information possible.
    Please click here for more information about Smarter Balanced Assessment.