Opt-out in Pacific NW with parents, students, teachers pushing the envelope

On Sunday at Powell’s Books in Portland, a “More Than a Score” panel discussion took place about the pressure placed on students & schools when class time is traded for high-stakes testing. Video at the end of the post. It was a standing room only event. Some of the highlights from the #MoreThanAScore hashtag on Twitter:

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One of the panelists, student activist Alexia Garcia, described the time she asked Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber in 2013 to take one of the high-stakes standardized tests. In the moment, Kitzhaber accepted [watch the video]. Two years later, he has not followed through, despite being contacted many times. Garcia is now in college and during the panel discussion also talked about the rising opt-out movement among students.

Students are so often way ahead of adults in being aware of problems, bad education policies, and showing courage about taking action. The Portland-area student activist movement has been inspiring and critical to the fight for doing what’s right for schools and defending them against wealthy education amateurs and corporations.

Race, equity, and social justice were recurring topics in the group discussion. High-stakes standardized testing has its pedigree in the eugenics movement. Many people in between may think these tests are mild, but the intent of the tests is to punish, and is steeped in the history of needing to prove one race is less intelligent than another race. We need to do something about poverty. That is the true detriment to student success. Testing & punishing does not work to help students.

Jesse Hagopian is a co-author and editor of the featured book, More Than A Score: The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing, with chapters written by education heavyweights like Diane Ravitch, Karen Lewis, Alfie Kohn, Alexia Garcia, and many others. Hagopian, his students, and his colleagues were the flashpoint for a successful shutdown of high-stakes testing in Seattle public schools.

The energy is rising. Parents, teachers, students, communities are becoming better informed and building power to reclaim our schools. This is an exciting time. Check out the discussion:

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