High School Students In This State No Longer Need Basic Skills

(UnitedHeadlines.com) – For at least the next five years, Oregon high school students will not need to show basic competency in math, writing, or reading before graduating as education officials say students of color are disproportionately harmed by what they call an unnecessary requirement.

The pause of the graduation requirement through the 2027-2028 school year was unanimously approved by the Oregon State Board of Education. The essential skills requirement, first approved in 2008, was paused during the pandemic.

The requirement meant 11th-grade students needed to prove competency in the essential subjects of math, reading, and writing through either a standardized test or work samples in order to graduate. For students who fail to meet expectations, an extra math or writing class is taken senior year instead of an elective class.

In continuing the pause of the requirement, the board members said the requirements “were unnecessary.” According to the board, marginalized students had higher rates of needing the extra steps senior year and were therefore harmed by the requirements. The board stated the tests would continue to be given to students but not used as a tool to measure competency for graduation.

Public comments opposing the continuation of the pause in requirements were submitted by hundreds of people. Opponents said that students who had low scores were helped by the extra math and writing courses they needed to take under the requirement. The opposition led to the vote on the pause being postponed from September.

Former Oregon gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan stated that diplomas, at some point, would end up being the equivalent of a “participation prize” rather than a document that shows someone is “prepared to go pursue their best future.”

Oregon students must still earn a certain number of credits as well as complete an education plan mapping out how their post-high school goals can be achieved in order to graduate. Though Oregon has one of the most rigorous credit requirements for graduation, it has one of the lowest graduation rates.

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