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Oregon Students Rejoice: State Exams Get Shorter

Oregon students may spend as much as an hour less on state tests, following a vote from a group of states. 

The Oregon Department of Education says the most time-consuming part of the Smarter Balanced exams is getting shorter, according to a memo sent to superintendents throughout the state.

The "performance task" is a required writing section on both the English and math tests, starting in third grade.  

Administering the performance task included a 30-minute, teacher-led lesson to prep students for test questions. Doing that for both English and math meant an hour of test-related lessons for each student.  

The state consortium that runs Smarter Balanced has voted to eliminate the requirement of teacher lessons, and modify the test questions so the lessons aren't necessary.  

Many teachers, parents and students complained of how much time the Smarter Balanced exams took.  

The exams were also very difficult, with less than half of Oregon students passing the math tests, last spring.

Editor's Note: This story was modified from the original to clarify the actions of the Smarter Balanced consortium.

Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Rob Manning is a news editor at Oregon Public Broadcasting, with oversight of reporters covering education, healthcare and business. Rob became an editor in 2019, following about 15 years covering schools and universities in Oregon and southwest Washington as OPB’s education reporter.