Portland high school students gather to protest standardized tests

Portland high school students gather to protest standardized tests »Play Video
High school students protested Oregon standardized tests Wednesday morning. (KATU photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Some local high school students protested Oregon’s standardized tests outside Portland Public Schools headquarters Wednesday morning.

The group of about 20 students said they refused to take the tests, and encouraged others to opt out too.

“It takes up a large amount of time and has no relevance to what we’re learning,” said Cleveland High School senior Pele Warnock.

The group, from the Portland Student Union, argued that the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) test doesn’t accurately measure student achievement.

“There are so many other ways they can evaluate me, but these tests don’t show what I’m learning in the classroom,” said student Bria Justus. “They just show what the state thinks I need to know.”

While the students say skipping the test is not a big deal, PPS spokesman Matt Shelby said doing so could affect a student’s ability to graduate.

“The primary way that students do this, prove these skills, is through the state test,” said Shelby. “90 percent in our district last year.”

Parents can choose to have their kids opt out of state testing for religious or disability reasons, Shelby said.

There are other options besides the OAKS test, like handing in work samples, but teachers have to grade those individually.

“If we had a mass-migration over to that category, you’re talking about a lot of extra work for our teachers who are already overworked,” Shelby said.

Shelby said students should also consider that schools are ranked based on those test results.

“People pay a lot of attention,” he said. “People look at those rankings. People make decisions on where they go to school, a lot of times based on those rankings. So the stakes are pretty high for our schools in that regard.”