The Salem-Keizer School Board on Tuesday will consider a new charter contract for Optimum Learning Environments Charter School and vote on a district plan to skip standardized state tests for students this spring.
District administrators are asking the board to give them a green light to skip state standardized tests this year, a move that would put the district out of compliance with Oregon's standards for public schools. According to a staff report, the district "would prefer to use time with students to focus on teaching and learning instead of implementing summative assessments" during the final quarter of the school year.
If the board approves the plan, students in local schools would still be tested on math and reading proficiency using internal district assessments which are standardized based on national data. The district would have to submit a plan to the state to regain compliance with state standards for public schools, which would consist of administering the state standardized tests next year.
The board is also due to hear reports on an effort to assess the district's school discipline practices, the return to in-person classes, early childhood education programs and next year's budget.
A normally routine part of board meetings spotlighting achievements by students, community groups and district employees has become another source of conflict on the board. Board leadership last week decided to delay recognizing South Salem High School senior and student journalist Eddy Binford-Ross for winning several national awards and scholarships.
The decision came after Binford-Ross published an article detailing how Oregon Right to Life and affiliated political action committees have financed the campaigns of a majority of sitting board members. Board chair Satya Chandragiri said he acted after he became aware the Salem Democratic Socialists of America had shared the article to endorse a slate of board candidates in the upcoming May election, saying he was concerned honoring Binford-Ross could be perceived as taking a side in the upcoming election.
In response, Alec Palm, a West Salem senior also due to be recognized for his work as Oregon Youth Governor, asked that his recognition be withdrawn from the agenda in a show of solidarity with Binford-Ross.
The board meets Tuesday, April 13 at 6 p.m. The meeting will stream live on YouTube and be broadcast on CC:Media, channel 21, and on YouTube.
Written comments can be submitted until noon Monday, April 12 using this form. The board will not take live calls during the meeting, but will read submitted comments and provide a summary during the meeting.