Oregon graduation requirements changed

Written by: Libby Thoma | Freelancer

Oregon’s essential skills requirement has been dropped at least until the graduation of the class of 2029 due to Senate Bill 774.  The essential skills requirement, known as the Assessment of Essential Skills, is the requirement of students to pass a standardized test containing basic skills such as reading, writing and math skills. 

Senate Bill 774 is a bill addressing the decrease in education and learning due to the pandemic. 

The test was dropped not only because of the amount of learning and education decreasing during lockdown but also because the standardized test format was found harmful to marginalized students. Marginalized students include students of color, students with disabilities, students with English as their second language and more. 

Many argue that taking away this test also takes away the ability for students to get the extra help in school they need. Others argue that the test holds marginalized students back, not just grade wise or diploma wise, but also by taking away their ability to join an elective because of tutoring.

The school board claims there’s a lack of evidence that the extra education stemming from the test helps students progress toward college or work. Those in favor of disbanding the tests believe in the harmfulness to marginalized students. Those for keeping the standardized test believe that not testing students for essential skills leads to the value of a diploma decreasing and making achieving a diploma “easier” — as they believe — are not helpful for students

Oregon doesn’t have much room to do worse in education, as Oregon is 42nd in the U.S. in education K through 12.  Throughout upcoming years, time will tell if this decision is the correct one. 

Contact the author at ethoma23@mail.wou.edu