Target: Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber
Goal: Remove annual standardized testing from Oregon schools
Standardized testing has been used in America since the 1800s, but the practice has skyrocketed since the No Child Left Behind Act passed in 2002. Standardized testing has since become the norm for evaluating the entire educational system throughout the U.S. Since 2000, the U.S. has slipped from 18th in the world in math to 31st. Standardized testing is commonly used as a measure to evaluate learning capability as well as both student and teacher performance. But not only is it a poor measure of evaluation because it evaluates only a small portion of what makes education meaningful, it does not evaluate creativity or critical thinking and is highly biased in favor of the standard majority, typical white, middle-class students.
Discrimination is deeply rooted in this style of testing because students at varied skill levels with diverse knowledge are forced to answer questions designed for the typical majority. Those who do not fall within the parameters of typical white middle-class American students, such as racial minorities, English language learners, special education students and student with learning disabilities, are required to take the same tests as other children without accommodation. In addition, the pressure of performing high test scores puts intense stress on teachers, which has lead to issues of cheating as well as declines in quality teaching practices and removal of creativity from classrooms.
In Portland, Oregon, students are taking this matter into their own hands. Recently, a group of high school students have protested against taking the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills exam, an annual standardized test required by state law used for school and district performance evaluation. Some Oregon students this year are choosing to boycott the test. One student stated he believes that the annual testing takes up too much time and wastes resources while having no relevance to students learning development. Some argue without standardized testing there would be no basis of general evaluation, there would be no way to create standard school rankings and teachers would incredibly over-worked. But the counterargument would be to increase teacher wages and create an evaluation technique that focuses on improving achievement, not just scoring well.
Portland’s high school students are hoping to impress the importance of dismantling a standardized education system to Governor Kitzhaber. By signing the petition below you will show your support for these creative high school students and their desire to become more than test scores.
Dear Governor Kitzhaber,
Standardized testing has become the norm for evaluating students in America since the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002. Currently standardized tests are required from all public schools in Oregon as a means to assess districts and estimate spending budgets.
Although standardized testing provides an easy medium for state and national evaluation, this form of testing has deep roots of discrimination against all non-typical students. Non-English speakers, students with learning disabilities, minorities and special education students are unfairly discriminated against during these tests. In addition, typical students are limited from critical thinking, creativity, and individualism. Teachers are also limited by these factors teaching students to simply perform well in tests rather than learn intuitively.
Portland, Oregon’s high school students are demanding change from standardized testing and I am writing you to show my support. Please reform this lapse in America’s education system, starting in Oregon. Opt out of the annual Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills exam. Take standardized testing out of Oregon law and public schools.
[Your Name Here]