Through legislation and other mandates, the governor has managed to make a dent
No Child Left Behind left a lot of people with a general unease about standardized tests. Some feel they're too heavily relied upon and they happen too often, siphoning precious time away from actual learning. While campaigning for governor in 2010, John Kitzhaber promised voters that he would try to restore some of the instructional time that had been eaten up by those tests.
In 2011, the governor signed a bill into law that required the state to draw up testing guidelines. The law required the provision that students in kindergarten through eighth-grade who met state standards on a test must be excused from a retake. Once the rules were drawn up, an exception was made if a student's parents gave explicit permission for a retest.
We followed up with the Oregon Department of Education to see what this has meant in practice. Indeed, fewer students have been retaking the state's primary standardized test, the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. Spokeswoman Crystal Greene told us that with this new rule, "the number of students who retested after having already met the standard dropped from around 60 percent to around 16 percent."
The governor's spokesman Tim Raphael also noted that the overall number of test administrations has dropped by 28 percent. Greene confirmed that for us (with a pretty comprehensive spreadsheet), but she also noted that the drop was not entirely a result of the new rule.
As it happens, last year, the Oregon Department of Education reduced the number of times students in third- through eighth-grades took the test from three to two. Greene noted in an email that, while she's not sure whether the governor was directly responsible for this reduction, his office was "very engaged in, and supportive of, this move to reduce testing opportunities."
The governor promised to reduce standardized testing and he's done that. We rate this a Promise Kept.
E-mail from Crystal Greene, Sept. 25, 2013
Interview with Crystal Greene, Sept. 25, 2013
Email from Tim Raphael, Sept. 4, 2013
Senate Bill 801, 2011 Legislative Session