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Writing Assessment

Pete Springer/OPB

Lawmakers have asked the Oregon Department of Education to consider cuts beyond Governor John Kitzhaber’s recommendations. On the block is the state’s standardized writing exam. You can read some samples from Oregon’s state writing assessment here.

Educators in districts across the state acknowledge that budget shortfalls necessitate painful cuts. But they say the elimination of writing assessment exams will leave students unprepared for college, and flies in the face of a national trend.

The backdrop for this proposed cut is that Oregon recently joined a coalition of 44 states to greatly revamp standardized tests over the next few years with a performance-based emphasis in reading, writing, math and problem solving. Teachers are expected to alter lesson plans mid-year according to test results. This ambitious project, costing $330 million, will steer educators away from the federal No Child Left Behind standard.

The Director of Assessment and Accountability at Oregon’s Department of Education fears that students who don’t take part in a writing assessment will be less prepared to handle the battery of new tests that’s just around the corner.

What’s the best way to ensure that young people in Oregon are mastering written communication? How did you learn to write, and how were you tested? If Oregon’s writing assessments were eliminated, what would be lost?


*6/3 Update: The Education Subcommittee of the Joint Ways and Means Committee has approved a budget cut to the Oregon Department of Education, eliminating writing assessments in elementary and middle school, and limiting them to only once in high school, in 11th grade.



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