Pacific Northwest school leaders say ‘no’ to standardized tests

Sara Cline
Charlie Dale works on problems in his math notebook at the kitchen counter in his family home in Lake Oswego, Ore., Oct. 30, 2020.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — School leaders in the Pacific Northwest are rejecting standardized testing that normally happens each spring because of instructional time lost to the pandemic.

School boards for Oregon’s two largest school districts, Portland and Salem-Keizer, both passed resolutions this week not to administer standardized tests this year, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Friday. Other districts, including Ashland, Eagle Point, Astoria and Oregon Trail, have taken the same step.

Also this week, Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal said students in that state would not take the tests this spring. Instead, Reykdal said the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction will plan for testing in the fall, as well as the “need to substantially reduce the length of state assessments” in the future.

RELATED: Washington Superintendent delays state tests to Fall 2021

In Oregon, opting out of state assessments or changing the rules so parents must opt-in violates state policy. Districts taking these actions will have to report being out of compliance with standards, as well as provide a “corrective action plan” to come into compliance next school year.

If they don’t, state school funds could be affected, according to the Oregon Department of Education.

Still, some Pacific Northwest school districts say the testing will be meaningless after a year of online learning.

“Even if we went through all the logistical preparations to proctor this option, it wouldn’t be meaningful to assessing system performance across the district,” said Portland Public Schools Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero during a meeting Tuesday.

The Oregon School Boards Association supports allowing districts to get students back into school and back on track without a penalty.

“Bringing kids back into the classroom and have them take standardized tests that literally mean nothing to the students or the district is a waste of time,” said Jim Green, OSBA executive director.

“As our communities recover from the pandemic and we reopen classrooms, our schools should be focused on learning.”

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