WLHS adapts to national Smarter Balance testing


Brittany Park

Students began the Smarter Balance testing program in 2015 under the new national Common Core standards. The test has gained momentum because of its controversy surrounding unnecessary testing for juniors.

Over April 13-24, juniors took the national Smarter Balance test for English Language Arts and mathematics. Because of the new testing format, like the addition of typed out answers and interactive tasks, administrators have worked to support students as well as the teachers.

“It’s a shift in the way we’re used to testing,” Annikke Olson, vice principal and one of the test administrators said, “but we’ve made adjustments midstream to try and accommodate things.”

Though juniors prepared with a practice ELA test in early April in their English classes, students worried because administrators and teachers had little information to give them about the testing platform and its implications.

Because many students and families believe the testing is too difficult for students or unnecessary for juniors, people are given the option to opt out. One of the problems with this is students belief that opting out of the test is as easy as signing a paper.

“The process starts with having a conversation with one of the administrators and us communicating with parents,” Olson said. “There is an importance of talking with someone and making sure they understand what (opting out) really mean(s), what the impact of test is, the purpose etc.”

While WLHS only has three students not taking the test, Lake Oswego High School had 160 plus students opt-out due to bombardment of testing placed upon juniors.

In their March issue, Lake Views, LOHS’s student newspaper, researched the Smarter Balance test and the Common Core standards to show juniors they could opt-out of the test.

“The test doesn’t accurately measure the ability of teachers and students,” Farah Alkayed, junior and photo editor of Lake Views said. “It’s just another congratulatory standardized test that we don’t really need to be taking.”

While some people believe testing is a waste of school time and resources, the testing period for the Smarter Balance program is not going away.

“Hopefully they won’t be changing testing often, but you have to start sometime, so this just happens to be the year,” Olson said.