Vast majority of Wilson juniors opted out of statewide testing
If they handed out Participant ribbons to public high school juniors who took standardized math and English tests last year, only one in four Wilson High School juniors would have received one.
Wilson had the lowest participation rate in statewide standardized tests among all Portland public high schools. The average participation rate in the math test for all 10 PPS high schools was two out of three students taking it, or 66.6%. Just over two of 10 Wilson students did so for a 20.8% rate. Participation was slightly higher for the English/language arts test. District-wide, seven out of 10 students sat for the test (70%). At Wilson, just under three of 10 took it (27.5%).
Students who are juniors at Wilson right now can take the standardized tests beginning in January. In early December, their parents will receive notices from Portland Public Schools along with an opt-out form which they can sign and return if they don't want their children to take the test.
Public school students statewide registered a slightly higher participation rate in testing for the 2018/2019 school year. That was the bright point in an otherwise dismal and dispiriting set of scores, which were the worst seen in half a decade. The tests are taken by high school juniors and by third- through eighth-grade students.
Colt Gill, director of the Oregon Department of Education, released a statement after the scores were made public applauding participants.
"The fact that more students took the English, language arts and mathematics summative assessments in 2018-2019 means there is more data to better understand the needs of our students," he wrote. "Overall, nearly 1% more students took the English, language arts and mathematics summative assessments in 2018-19 than in the previous school year."
That so many Wilson students were allowed by their parents to "opt out" may be due to the fact that their sons and daughters are doing well in school, according to one PPS administrator.
"In a school like Wilson, with a graduation rate of 90% and two-thirds of students doing well with readiness indicators for graduation, like Advanced Placement classes, it's not a huge concern," said Russell Brown, chief of systems performance for Portland Public Schools.
"These kids are doing very well and are poised to be ready to enter the post-secondary world."
Brown said there's one benefit of taking the standardized tests that those who opt out will miss.
"If they're going on to post-secondary at an Oregon institution, the tests can help them avoid taking remedial course work," he said.
Asked if he would advise parents of juniors at Wilson this year to sign the opt-out form or encourage their student to take the test, Brown said, "I think it would be helpful to have additional information about your student. I don't think it's an unreasonable amount of time for a student to take the test and it's one more piece of valuable information you can put in your pocket along with the PSAT and Advanced Placement classes."
Wilson's participation rate in both the math and English, language arts standardized test was the lowest in the state. In Portland, the school with the highest participation rate in math, 97.5%, was Roosevelt High School in North Portland. Wilson's new principal, Filip Hristic, was principal at Roosevelt last school year.
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