A group of high school students in Lake Oswego, Oregon, has launched a campaign to persuade their classmates to refuse the Smarter Balanced tests, which will be given in April and May.


I have always believed that students are the best advocates for change, because they are the victims of the adult obsession with measuring their brains with bubble tests, and they have an additional advantage: they can’t be fired.


Here is the story:


Last week, they mailed letters to the parents of more than 300 LOHS juniors, urging them to opt out and including a link to an opt-out form they’d created.


“It’s not that we want to cause trouble for the school district or the parents or anything,” said Shaheen Safari, a junior and Student Union member. “It’s just what we personally believe in. We’re exercising our democratic right to speak our voice.”


The Student Union evolved from a series of stories on the front page of the March 13 issue of Lake Views, the LOHS student newspaper. The coverage included an opinion piece by all six editors headlined “Everyone, opt out now,” a news story about opt-out efforts across the country and a local story that quoted faculty, administrators and teacher union president Laura Paxson Kluthe…..


“Opting out is a private action, allowing status- and appearance-focused Oswegans to resist in an environment that contemporarily antagonizes political action,” said Daniel Vogel, an LOHS junior and co-editor-in-chief of Lake Views.


Students in grades three through eight and high school juniors are scheduled to take the SBAC tests this spring. The tests involve more in-depth problem solving than previous assessments, and about 30-40 percent of Oregon students are not expected to meet the new standards, according to state Department of Education spokeswoman Crystal Greene…..


A school’s performance rating is linked to its implementation of SBAC, and one of the criteria for a top score is student participation of 94.5 percent. On the five-point rating scale, enough LOHS students have opted out to drop the school from a five to a four. A lower rating affects a school’s image, Greene said, because some people use the rankings when deciding whether they will move to a particular neighborhood.


For LOHS junior Farah Alkayed, that’s not a good enough reason to take the new tests.


“We think it’s more important to create change in our education and educate people about (SBAC) than to be concerned with our school’s ranking,” Alkayed said….


“Opting out is a lot easier than holding rallies or encouraging students to walk out of the tests, and students/parents cannot be punished for opting out,” he said. “That’s not to say we’ve ruled out the possibility of walkouts or rallies. Opting out allows us to gauge support for further actions.”