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Most East County students will not take regular achievement exams this spring

COURTESY PHOTO: CENTENNIAL SCHOOL DISTRICT - School districts are skipping the state-mandated standardized tests this year.

East County students won't be taking the annual standardized state tests to measure their academic progress this spring, as schools have decided to skip the testing during this pandemic school year.

Reynolds, Gresham-Barlow, Centennial and Corbett school districts will not administer standardized tests school-wide this year. All the districts will give a test to students whose families request them.

"We have elected, as a school district, to opt-out of state tests for the 2020-21 school year," Gresham-Barlow School District administrators said in a letter to parents recently.

The districts give multiple reasons for scrapping the tests this year.

"State-mandated testing will require sacrificing several hours of greatly-needed instructional time for most students," a Reynolds School Board resolution said.

The test can only be administered in-person and the Gresham-Barlow letter said, "This means that many of our students would not be able to participate in state testing this year as many families do not feel comfortable, yet, sending their students back to the physical school building."

Students in metro area public schools have been learning remotely for almost the entire 2020-21 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only in recent weeks have students come back to classrooms and some families have chosen to continue the distance learning.

At the Wednesday, April 28, school board meeting, the Reynolds School Board passed a resolution directing the district to give the tests only to families that request them for their children.

The Reynolds resolution noted that Cold Gill, director of the Oregon Department of Education, earlier had said "This is not a time to subject families and educators to additional stressors that would be required for remote administration of summative assessments."

Some critics say that ditching the tests will mask the depth of the learning loss students suffered this year because they were learning remotely and not in classrooms.

But the districts said they have evaluated students over the course of the year of remote learning and teachers have a pretty good idea of which students are behind academically.

Gresham-Barlow said the district administers an online package of tests called iReady to students in kindergarten through eighth grade in reading and math.

"We will administer the final iReady assessment for this school year at the end of May. Feedback from the iReady assessment will give us critical information as we make plans for your student(s) to return in the Fall," the Gresham-Barlow letter said.

Likewise the Reynolds resolution noted that teachers have assessed students during the year.

The state's largest school district, Portland Public Schools, has also decided not to give students the statewide, standardized tests this year.

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