Oregon Department of Education links standardized testing to White supremacy

Oregon official said concept of standardized testing is rooted in White supremacy

The Oregon Department of Education’s (ODE) state board hosted a work group Monday that declared standardized testing is rooted in White supremacy and has been "weaponized" against students of color.

State board staff attended the virtual meeting titled, "Work Group on Equitable and Racially Responsive Balanced Assessment," which was mostly led by ODE Director of Assessment Dan Farley, though multiple members contributed to the conversation.


Farley kicked off the discussion by saying the concept of standardized testing being rooted in White supremacy is a "truth" to be accepted across the state’s education system.

"We started the conversation by introducing the concept that – not the concept but the evidence that the history of standardized testing was framed and came from White supremacist or eugenicist sources," Farley said.

Critical Race Theory debate

An even mix of proponents and opponents to teaching Critical Race Theory attend a meeting by the Placentia Yorba Linda School Board in Orange County, California. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

"The history of standardized testing is founded in White supremacy, a history that has caused harm to students historically and currently underserved by our educational system," he added.

Farley said that while it’s likely impossible to eliminate standardized testing altogether, it is possible for assessment practices to be framed as "active anti-racist levers" in the state’s education system, and the communities "whom state assessment results have been weaponized against" can be an active participant in policy development.

"We need standardization in order for test results to be comparable, but I do think it’s a question that’s worthy of interrogation," he said. "It’s not a question that I, as a White male, should come out and answer, whether I have an opinion on it or not."

The same work group previously met in September, when Farley cited the 2019 book, "How to be an AntiRacist," by prominent critical race theory advocate Ibram X. Kendi.

"[Kendi] reminds us that ‘anti-racist actions must remove racist policies,’" Farley said at the time. "So the policies must first be identified, either because they contain racist content or they contribute to racist outcomes. And while most of our state assessment requirements in Oregon are federally based and federal statute, the state board and the assessment team are critical in that discussion, given the influence maintained over policies and practices in Oregon schools."

Ibram X. Kendi visits Build to discuss the book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You at Build Studio on March 10, 2020 in New York City. (Michael Loccisano)

"We’re working to identify racist policies and practices that we can influence so we can disrupt them. … We are going to everything we can to disrupt them," he said.

During the Sept. 7 discussion, Farley said standardized testing "was both founded in and used as a weapon for purveyors of White supremacy," and that Oregon’s "standards, curriculum, instruction and assessment have centered in Whiteness contributing to the racist education outcomes that we are familiar with."

Farley cited a 2015 essay by Matthew Knoester and Wayne Au that argued "high-stakes testing, combined with current systems of school choice, function as mechanisms used for racial coding that facilitate segregation and compound inequalities found in schools."


Signs opposing Critical Race Theory line the entrance to the Loudoun County School Board headquarters, in Ashburn, Virginia, on June 22, 2021.  (REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

Farley also cited Gary Orfield, who has argued federal education standards like "‘No Child Left Behind" contributed to the resegregation of America.


The work group comes after Democratic Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill in July that dropped the requirement that high school students prove proficiency in reading, writing or math before graduation.

Farley did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.