Tests have value for some purposes

I strongly support The Bulletin’s editorial call for uniform achievement testing in the Bend-La Pine Schools (BLSD), though we should be clear about how the results from such tests can be used.

None of the standardized achievement tests administered in BLSD (or in any other Oregon school district, for that matter) is suitable for teacher or school accountability purposes due to inherent psychometric limitations. Increasing student participation rates won’t make any difference in this regard.

However, snapshot achievement tests — assessment batteries administered once a year to a whole cohort of students — can provide some useful information.

First, the results from such tests can give students and parents normative, unbiased feedback on individual academic achievement — how a student compares with others in a representative national sample.

Second, in aggregate, the results can help educators and policymakers evaluate the effectiveness of instructional programs, particularly if the results have been corrected for differences in student cognitive ability, and if the test is well-aligned with the local curriculum. These are appropriate uses for standardized test results.

Unfortunately, both the Smarter Balanced assessment and the ACT used in BLSD have several shortcomings as uniform measures of student achievement. This is not to say that they have no value, but they have limited utility for normative feedback, program evaluation and accountability. Finding the right balance in the assessment of student achievement is challenging. It appears there’s still room for improvement in finding that balance in Bend-La Pine and other school districts across the state.

Ron Smith


Vote yes on Measure 100

I am Kenyan citizen and earned my LLM in Animal Law from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, and now work with a nonprofit in Kenya that saves elephants and rhinos from the poachers and smugglers. Its operations have a finger on the pulse of wildlife crime, and with it comes the realization that without demand reduction initiatives like Measure 100, we will never win this war against illegal wildlife crimes. We call it a “war” against illegal wildlife crimes, but we ignore a most basic wartime tactic: acting in concert to defeat a common enemy.

Measure 100 is not just a “feel good” measure. It is necessary to improve wildlife trafficking enforcement at both the federal and state levels. It is perfectly legal to engage in trade in wildlife products within Oregon, and states may regulate trade within their borders. A state law would reinforce a federal ban on trafficking, adding an extra layer of protection. Measure 100 removes the financial incentive in illegal wildlife trade by imposing stiff civil penalties for wildlife trafficking, which is important as it is the huge profits in wildlife products that will drive to extinction species like elephants, rhinoceroses, big cats and marine species like whales, sharks and sea turtles.

Without laws targeting the demand in wildlife products, my work in Kenya will become increasingly difficult. We have passed strong laws in Kenya to protect our wildlife. Oregon, so should you. Please vote yes on Measure 100.

Jim Karani

Nairobi, Kenya

Need change at top of sheriff’s office

Has your house ever had dry rot? It starts with a single cell of fungus and that slowly and quietly multiplies, and over time causes wood to become brittle and eventually crumbles into powder. Dry rot is not visible. There is no treatment. All compromised lumber must be removed and replaced with untainted wood. The key to success is to change the conditions that gave birth to and nurture the growth of the fungus.

Problems within our sheriff’s office started surfacing during 2014 and have continued unabated through September. Like dry rot, the problems did not happen overnight. No one intended for fiscal carelessness or loss of integrity to creep in, and it is unlikely that anyone intentionally encouraged it, but now that we know that rot exists, real changes must be made.

As a product of the system, our current sheriff may not recognize the underlying culture and philosophy which has bred the now-exposed turpitude within the department.

This fall we will be voting for the office of sheriff. We will now truly share responsibility for the health of this department. Complete change starting at the top is called for if we wish to eliminate the tainted wood.

Do the right thing at the right time? Vote for Eric Kozowski.

Marjorie Hudson