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Participation Rate High for State Tests in Grades 3 Through 8

OLYMPIA — July 9, 2015 — Washington schools met the required 95 percent participation rate on this spring’s new Smarter Balanced tests in grades 3 through 8, according to preliminary results released today by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). The rate was considerably lower for the 11th grade.

States and individual districts and schools are required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to reach 95 percent participation on state tests as one way to help ensure schools are meeting the needs of all students.

“I’m proud of the students who participated in the new tests this year,” State Superintendent Randy Dorn said. “Trying something new isn’t easy. My hope is that now that we’ve seen the new tests in action, more students will participate next year, especially in 11th grade. Eleventh graders who score a 3 or 4 on the tests are considered ready for credit-bearing coursework, and may avoid placement tests once they get into college.”

NOTE: Preliminary test refusal numbers are based on data reported to OSPI by districts. Data collection methods vary by district. Final refusal numbers may be different for some districts and will be reported with final score results during OSPI’s press conference on August 17.

Washington’s Preliminary Refusal Rates on Smarter Balanced Testing (as of July 8, 2015)

GradeMay 1 EnrollmentEnglish Language ArtsMathematics
ParticipationConfirmed RefusalsPotential RefusalsParticipationConfirmed RefusalsPotential Refusals

*10th graders took the Smarter Balanced English language arts test because it is required for high school graduation: The Smarter Balanced mathematics test is not required for 10th graders.

What are the consequences?

  • Academic: When a large number of students do not take state tests, drawing statewide conclusions about student learning is difficult. It is also difficult to know which schools are struggling, because accurate comparisons cannot be made for schools with large refusal rates.
  • Accountability: Last week, OSPI released higher-than-expected preliminary Smarter Balanced test results. Test refusals, recorded as “0”s, must be factored into a school’s accountability ratings for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and Washington State Achievement Index.

    How do test refusals affect a school’s accountability rating?
    Let’s look at two hypothetical neighboring schools:

     School ASchool B 
    Met standard7575
    % meeting standard of those tested
    % meeting standard of those who should have tested

  • Monetary: The U.S. Department of Education could place Washington on “high-risk status” and withhold federal funds. The feds have not yet indicated what, if any, actions they will take.

More information


About OSPI
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.

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Kristen Jaudon
Communications Specialist
(360) 725-6032 |

Nathan Olson
Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015 |

The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015


   Updated 7/9/2015

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