PPS: Students can opt out of standardized test

Students scheduled to take Smarter Balanced test in Spring

Students and parents protested against Oregon's standardized testing. February 17, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
Students and parents protested against Oregon's standardized testing. February 17, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Parents, students and teachers gathered outside the Portland Public Schools headquarters Tuesday to protest Common Core, the federal program aimed to bring students up to a nationwide education standard.

In a meeting Tuesday night, school district leaders told parents they could opt their students out of the state-required Smarter Balanced standardized test at any time.

“These test scores are becoming everything in our school system and they are not a reflection of learning,” PPS Parent Dana Brenner-Kelly told KOIN 6 News. “Time is being taken away from broader curriculum to teach to the test, our kids have so much pressure on them to perform on these tests.”

PPS spokesperson Christine Miles told KOIN 6 News parents can opt their students out of the exam for two reasons: religion or disability.

“It’s up to the parents to go ahead and fill that out and talk to the principal,” Miles said. “It’s really their decision.”

In October, the board of Portland Public Schools unanimously approved a committee’s recommendation not to set state Achievement Compact Targets for the school year in areas that would have been measured by the Smarter Balanced Test.

The committee recommended waiting until the “reliability and validity” of the tests had been established based on available data.

It is reported that 65 to 70% of students will fail the “one size fits all” test.

“I’ve seen students told from grade three every year that they are failures, and I’ve seen those students struggle to see themselves as learners and enjoy school,” PPS teacher Elizabeth Teal told KOIN 6 News.

Concerns about the controversial new set of standards, adopted by Oregon in 2010 with the goal of better preparing students for post-secondary education, factored into the board’s decision.

“Given the lack of baseline data from which to set targets, and the many concerns and unknowns, we decline to set performance targets, and we ask that the state provide time and resources to help students and teachers transition to the new test,” Portland School Board Co-Chair Ruth Adkins said in October.

But that decision does not delay testing, and students will still take the Smarter Balanced test this spring. It replaces the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) test.

KOIN 6 News will have more information as it develops.

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