Oregon school chiefs have again suspended the need for high schoolers to prove their math, reading and writing skills in order to graduate.
The State Board of Education voted last week to continue the suspension for another five years amid claims they are unfair on minority students who don’t test well.
In order to earn a diploma, graduating students were previously required to earn standardized test scores indicating proficiency in reading, writing and math.
But this was put on pause during the pandemic as standardized tests weren’t happening amid school closures.
Following a unanimous vote by the Oregon State Board of Education last week, the requirement will not be in place for at least the next five years.
During a September meeting, State Board of Education Chair Guadalupe Martinez Zapata likened rhetoric about underperformance by marginalized students to ‘racial superiority arguments’
Oregon students (pictured) will no longer have to prove proficiency in reading, writing and math in order to graduate – at least not until 2029
The skills requirement has been suspended once again under Governor Tina Kotek, who began her tenure this year
Opponents of the essential skills requirement argued it was harmful to students of color, students with disabilities and those learning English as a second language.
These groups were frequently required to take extra math and writing classes in their senior year to prove they deserved to graduate.
But board members underscored that state-mandated standardized tests will still be administered to most Oregon high school students – they just won’t be used to determine whether a student has the skills necessary to graduate.
‘The only thing we are suspending is the inappropriate use of how those assessments were being used,’ state board member Vicky López Sánchez, a dean at Portland Community College, said during Thursday’s meeting.
‘I think that really is in the best interest of Oregon students.’ Hundreds of people submitted public comments urging the board to reinstate the standards.
But Board Chair Guadalupe Martinez Zapata described the pushback as a ‘campaign of misinformation.’
During a September meeting, she likened ‘rhetoric about cultural and social norms being the underlying reason for underperformance on assessments by systemically marginalized students’ to ‘racial superiority arguments.’
‘It is not bigoted, it is not racist to want your student to be able to actually learn,’ former gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan told FOX News.
The skills requirement was originally suspended under Governor Kate Brown, who passed a bill freezing it during the pandemic
Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan argues that wanting students to learn is ‘not racist’
Drazan ran for governor last year, losing to Democrat Tina Kotek by less than 4% of the vote.
The overhaul of the skills requirement is part of a bigger issue, she said – as education officials are now considering ‘equity grading’ instead of the traditional A to F scale.
‘They are now moving forward with an agenda that says if you cheat, you can’t be flunked. If you don’t show up, you don’t get a zero,’ she said.
‘They’re not going to have homework that they grade because having homework somehow they view as being inequitable.’