Oregon extends suspension of high school graduation proficiency requirement

The Oregon State Board of Education has unanimously extended the suspension of the graduation requirement for high school students to prove basic mastery of reading, writing, and math until at least 2029.

This decision comes despite opposition from some Oregonians, including former Republican gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan, who argued that pausing the requirement devalues an Oregon diploma. The state board and the Oregon Department of Education defended the move, stating that requiring all students to pass standardized tests or create teacher-judged assignments was a harmful hurdle for historically marginalized students and did not lead to meaningful improvements in post-high school success. The suspension was initially implemented during the pandemic and will provide more time for community outreach and potential revisions to graduation standards.

The decision has sparked debate, with proponents of the academic mastery requirements arguing that lowering the standards risks masking disparities and reinforces false stereotypes about students’ demographics determining their academic success. Critics of the suspended requirement believe that it’s essential to maintain high standards and focus on concrete plans to improve students’ academic achievement rather than removing the proficiency requirements.

The state will continue to evaluate the impact of the suspension on education outcomes, potentially signaling a shift in the approach to high school graduation standards in Oregon.

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