As nearly 600,000 Oregon teachers and students prepare for a fresh school year to dawn this week, a challenge looms large.
It's called Smarter Balanced and it's a test of reading, math, writing, listening, research and thinking skills. Slated to be given in April and May, it will test students' mettle with roughly seven hours of intellectually demanding questions and tasks, the likes of which most of them have never seen.
Test officials won't decide for months how high students will have to score to pass the exam, which will be given to students in grades three through eight and to high school juniors. Nevertheless, scores on the test will be used to judge whether students are on track and which Oregon schools are doing the best and worst jobs.