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Oregon Legislators Hear Testimony On High-Stakes Exams

<p>The Oregon Capitol Building in Salem.&nbsp;</p>
Alan Sylvestre

The Oregon Capitol Building in Salem. 

Oregon's House Education Committee heard testimony Monday on high-stakes exams. A work group of teachers and administrators has recommended less emphasis on end-of-year state exams and more focus on classroom-level assessments.

One House bill would delay using the new "Smarter Balanced" exam results to judge schools and teachers. Another would make it easier for students to opt out of the tests.

Portland parent and teacher Elizabeth Thiel argued that bill should go further - and prohibit sanctions against schools like hers, where students are opting out:

"Five families made the choice not to take the test, and our school was dropped a level. This practice is coercive - it's shaming communities, creating a greater culture of fear, where parents are telling other parents what they can and can not do in their own child's interest."

The education committee also heard testimony on a bill to audit time and money spent on standardized tests. Other bills would create a "student bill of rights," and bar publicly posting student test scores.

Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Rob Manning is a JPR content partner from Oregon Public Broadcasting. Rob has reported extensively on Oregon schools and universities as OPB's education reporter and is now a news editor.