Teaching Profession

Portland Joins Seattle As Site of Test Protests

By Jaclyn Zubrzycki — February 05, 2013 1 min read
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A group of students in Portland, Ore. is organizing a boycott of the state’s standardized tests, reports OregonLive. Students from the Portland Public Schools student union are leading the charge, which is capitalizing on momentum from the national attention paid to Seattle teachers who announced last month that they would not administer the MAP test (that’s short for Measures of Academic Progress).

Though the Garfield High School teachers in Seattle have stated that they take issue with the MAP test in particular, not standardized tests in general, their protest sparked comments and statements of solidarity from national teachers’ groups, from those who say standardized tests are overused, and even from the Seattle chapter of the NAACP. A Garfield student recently wrote suggesting that her classmates refuse to take the MAP test, a computer-based formative assessment.

The Oregon students plan to protest the state benchmark tests. From OregonLive:

Alexia Garcia, a Lincoln High School senior, said the tests take away valuable class time and are ultimately unfair measures for both students and teachers. She hoped the boycott could help lower school ratings, which are affected by the number of students tested, to send a message. The community doesn't need tests to say schools are in need of improvement, she said. "The system is what really is in need of improvement," said Garcia, who is also a student representative on the Portland School Board. Lincoln Principal Peyton Chapman said she's not a champion of standardized testing but still has concerns. If school ratings drop, she said, prospective families may consider sending their children elsewhere. She also worried that boycotting all state tests could jeopardize some students' path to graduation.

Robb Cowie, a spokesman from the Portland Public Schools, said that the students were required to take the tests:

Oregon's statewide assessments provide important information about student learning for teachers, families and students themselves. They tell us how well our schools are serving their students - and in Oregon, passing tests for Writing, Reading and Math are also a graduation requirement. We recognize that some people have strong opinions about standardized tests. However, in Oregon students are required to participate."

Likewise, in Seattle, superintendent José Banda has told teachers they must give the test by February 22.
Here’s more on the implications of the Seattle protest from my colleague Ross Brenneman. Where do you think this is headed?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.