The governor of Oregon approved a law that will allow high school students to graduate without having to take tests to prove that they meet basic learning requirements under the argument of achieving a more ‘inclusive’ and ‘equitable’ education.
At issue is Act 744, which calls on the Department of Education to revise the state’s requirements for students to earn a high school diploma and mandates to “suspend the requirement of showing proficiency in Essential Learning Skills as a condition of earning diploma,” Oregonlive.com reported.
In addition to suspending the requirement that school institutions test students to qualify them, the law also “prohibits State Board of Education from requiring for high school diplomas that students show proficiency in any academic content area if a student successfully completed credit requirements.”
According to the text of the bill, the Department of Education will be required to report in 2023 on the results of this initiative to determine whether “the requirements for a high school diploma in this state are equitable and inclusive.”
A combination of factors will allow students to earn their diploma until 2027 or five more cycles starting in 2022 without passing any examination.
The law was approved by Governor Kate Brown last July 29, but due to a communication error between the Senate and the executive’s office, it was only known this Friday, August s.
According to local media, the governor did not perform any usual ceremonies when approving the law, nor did she issue any press release.
The governor’s deputy communications director, Charles Boyle, said his office notified legislative staff the same day the governor signed the bill into law.
Boyle stated that suspending examination requirements in reading, writing, and math while the state develops new graduation standards will benefit “Oregon’s Black, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color.”
“Leaders from those communities have advocated time and again for equitable graduation standards, along with expanded learning opportunities and support,” Boyle wrote.
However, notes Oregonlive, neither the state government nor the legislature has proposed or signed any law or initiative to expand educational opportunities for these minorities or improve their learning conditions.
The state suspended student examination at the onset of the pandemic in 2020 until 2024. The legislature and the state school board are scheduled to meet in 2022 to determine whether schools will resume exams, but under the new law, any decision will not take effect until 2027, pending the assessment results.
In the meantime, students can demonstrate their ability to use English and do math through about five different tests or by completing an in-depth class project judged by their own teachers.
However, the new law exempts students who “have a documented history of an inability to maintain grade level achievement due to significant learning and instructional barriers or have a documented history of a medical condition that creates a barrier to achievement.”
To earn a diploma, students would only have to earn one or two credits in core assignments such as math, English, science, health, etc., throughout the four years of high school.
The bill was introduced and promoted by Senate Democrats. While most Republicans criticized it for ‘lowering academic standards,’ some also voted in favor.