…But leaders at the Oregon Department of Education and members of the state school board said requiring all students to pass one of several standardized tests or create an in-depth assignment their teacher judged as meeting state standards was a harmful hurdle for historically marginalized students, a misuse of state tests and did not translate to meaningful improvements in students’ post high school success.
Nowhere in the Oregon Capital Chronicle (OCC) article (linked in my previous post) is the state school board’s rationale mentioned. This is precisely how the media (left and right) shapes the narrative around stories. By leaving out the racist rationale, however well-intentioned it might be, the Chronicle provides the reader with a narrative framework that doesn’t comport with reality.
Higher rates of students of color, students learning English as a second language and students with disabilities ended up having to take intensive senior-year writing and math classes to prove they deserved a diploma. That denied those students the opportunity to take an elective, despite the lack of evidence the extra academic work helped them in the workplace or at college, they said.
First, none of this is in the OCC article. Second, students deficient in English or math—whatever the reason—should be giving up electives to take intensive writing and math classes. And maybe they don’t deserve a diploma, unless your position is that a diploma means nothing in terms of ability and achievement. I mean, it is a fair argument that a diploma is or should be a glorified participation award, but it’s also a fair argument that it should be more than that.
Board members underscored that state-mandated standardized tests will still be administered to most Oregon high school students – they just won’t be used to determine whether a student has the skills necessary to graduate.
“We haven’t suspended any sort of assessments,” state board member Vicky López Sánchez, a dean at Portland Community College, said during Thursday’s meeting. “The only thing we are suspending is the inappropriate use of how those assessments were being used. I think that really is in the best interest of Oregon students.”
That tests are still being administered is not in the OCC article. Reading that article one would assume, wrongly, that tests won’t be used until the 2028-29 school year.
Oregon lawmakers, however, have mandated that families be told each year that they can opt their student out of taking state tests – and one third of high school juniors didn’t take the tests last spring, meaning they and their families don’t necessarily know how they measure up against statewide academic standards.
Given this mess, Covid, and need for reform, a suspension of testing may have been warranted for a year or two. The problem is that nobody’s fixed it, there’s no academic accountability, and the board has now kicked the can several more years down the road. It’s hard to see how education in Oregon is going to get any better. What’s not hard to see is that the Oregon Capital Chronicle isn’t helping matters.