Members of the Portland Public Schools (PPS) Student Union and the Portland Student Union are urging their fellow students to opt out of the annual Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) test. The students have tapped in to a heated debate going on in many cities, including Seattle, about the merits of standardized tests. The PPS students say the OAKS test doesn’t accurately reflect what they’ve learned.
The OAKS test is a standardized test given in every Oregon school to students in third grade through eighth grade as well as eleventh grade. The test is used to assess schools as “satisfactory”, “outstanding” or “in need of improvement.”
The Oregon Department of Education looks at both the results of the OAKS tests as well as how many students participate. A school must be able to demonstrate at least 95 percent participation in order to avoid an automatic “in need of improvement” score on its state report card.
Alecia Garcia, one of the student organizers behind the boycott, is very aware of that number. She says hopes the campaign will get at least five percent of all PPS high school students to opt out of the OAKS test. If they do opt out, eleventh graders will have to choose an alternative assessment to demonstrate their “essential skills” in order to graduate.
Are you a public school student in Oregon? Is your child? What’s your reaction to the idea of boycotting the OAKS test?
- Alexia Garcia: Senior at Lincoln High School and student representative on the school board from the PPS Student Union
- Rob Saxton: Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Oregon Department of Education