End high-stakes testing

I’ve been educating policymakers about the use standardized testing as a tool of eugenics since 2016. Persistent testimony at the school board, State Board of Education and the state legislature has led to legislation and administrative policy changes that discontinue use of Oregon Kindergarten Assessment, Smarter Balanced Assessment and Essential Learning Skills assessments.

Please read my 2016 letter to the editor at the bottom and watch this April 29, 2021 forum “The Racist History of Standardized Testing” to better understand the negative effects of standardization.

Awo Okaikor Aryee-Price, Jesse Hagopian, and Denisha Jones discuss the racist history of standardized testing and its impacts today.

Join antiracist educators and organizers for a conversation about the history of eugenics and standardized testing, the racist impacts of high stakes testing on learning and instruction and how we can build a movement against the testing regime.

Speakers: Awo Okaikor Aryee-Price, Ed.D is a former classroom teacher, teacher-leader, and organizer, who is committed to collectively undoing and unlearning the racist, colonial, patriarchal, and other oppressive systems and structures that hinder us all from being able to access our full human-selves. She is a core trainer with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, co-founder of an organization, MapSO Freedom School, and is a founding steering committee member for the National Black Lives Matter in School, a network of educators and organizers committed to centering Black students, educators, and communities, while advocating for the creation of anti-racist learning environments for all students. Jesse Hagopian is a member of the national Black Lives Matter at School steering committee and teaches Ethnic Studies at Seattle’s Garfield High School. He is the co-editor of Black Lives Matter at School: An Uprising for Educational Justice, an editor for Rethinking Schools magazine, editor of More Than a Score and co-editor of Teaching for Black Lives . Denisha Jones is a member of the national Black Lives Matter at School steering committee and Director of the Art of Teaching, graduate teacher education program, at Sarah Lawrence College. She is the co-editor of Black Lives Matter at School. Wayne Au is a Professor in the School of Educational Studies at the University of Washington Bothell. He is a long-time Rethinking Schools editor, co-editor of Teaching for Black Lives and author of A Marxist Education: Learning to Change the World. This event is co-sponsored by the New Jersey Education Association and Haymarket Books. While all of our events are freely available, we ask that those who are able make a solidarity donation in support of our important publishing and programming work.

January 8, 2016 Letter to Statesman Journal

Parents worry about high-stakes testing at school and there’s something you can do about it – opt out.

This year, the Student Assessment Bill of Rights requires schools to notify parents about opting students out of statewide summative testing.

Administration, costs, name, type are to be included in the notification, along with the opt-out form and explanation.

I’m opting my kids out and I’d like to tell you why.

Standards and assessments were developed without parent or teacher input. Text materials from engageNY are loaded with errors. Pearson ReadyGen will be in every elementary school next year, tracking every keystroke to measure achievement.

Massive data collection systems exist to manage this information. Student Longitudinal Data Systems track each child from birth or preschool onwards, including medical information, survey data and data from many state agencies such as the criminal justice system, child services and health departments.

Parents opted out hundreds of thousands of students across the nation. Many states waived or postponed enforcement. Parent resistance to outside control over schools caused Congress to enact the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) last month, which loosens assessment requirements by shifting enforcement to states. This allows the opportunity for more local control. The result of compromise, the law opens the door for communities to develop their own standards.

Input from parents is crucial as education leaders develop state standards. Oregon needs to qualify for the ESSA pilot for teacher-driven assessments that include creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication skills. Performance-based standards should replace Common Core State Standards. Only conduct mandated ESSA assessments or stop annual testing all together. These issues bear discussion.

The facts are against annual testing. No other advanced country does this to their children. Annual assessments radically change the learning environment, creating test-centered schools. Stop the use of federal funding to finance online testing systems. Untie student performance from teacher evaluation and remove Student Learning Goals. Apply for Title II funding to research a teacher’s workplace condition. Keep our data local.

Please make sure that parents are notified about the February 1 deadline and tell them the costs of test-centered schools.

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