OAKS testing requirements raised

By Wesley Bauer | Opinion Editor
The expectations of high school graduates have been raised once again. As of this year, the Oregon Department of Education has added the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge Skills (OAKS) reading test to the list of requirements for 2012 graduates.

According to Marshfield High School Testing Coordinator Brenda Landrum, the ODE feels the current requirements are not challenging enough for high school students. The OAKS test has been a statewide assessment for many years, and according to Landrum, it “made sense” to add to the requirements.

“They [the ODE] want to make a diploma more meaningful,” Landrum said.

Another issue the ODE wanted to fix is the dishonest feedback from the students because the OAKS test results did not affect their high school career. Landrum said there are students who do not take the test seriously and push random keys until the test is over. Marshfield Principal Greg Mulkey realizes this as well.

“I think the OAKS test for years meant nothing to students,” Mulkey said. “Now that it’s a requirement they have to take it seriously.”

According to Mulkey, many of the seniors do not realize there are new graduation requirements.  He believes the district has not been successful in communicating this with the students.

Many students are aware and in support of the new requirements. Senior Garrett Juelke believes the new OAKS requirements are a positive change.

“I believe that reading is a mandatory skill that everyone should have,” Juelke said.

Freshman Ashley Peters does not think the OAKS test requirements will greatly affect the majority of students. She said any student who puts effort into their academics will have no problem with the OAKS test.

“People that are actually trying are going to graduate,” Peters said.

According to Mulkey, 77 percent of seniors have already passed the OAKS reading test. Landrum said that any students who have already passed the OAKS reading test have their results recorded and will not have to retake it.

“I have all their scores in the database,” Landrum said.

Students who are unable to pass the OAKS reading test still have other options to choose from in order to meet graduation requirements; however, these are special circumstances that must be discussed with Landrum.

Over the next few years the number of OAKS tests required to graduate will increase. 2013 graduates will be required to pass the OAKS reading and writing tests. The OAKS math test will be required for 2014 graduates, and 2015 and later graduates must pass the OAKS science test as well.

For more information about the graduation requirements, students can speak to Landrum in Room 145.