The Oregon State Board of Education, in a recent unanimous decision, has extended the suspension of mandatory standardized testing in math, reading, and writing as a prerequisite for high school graduation for another five years.
This move follows concerns that these tests are particularly challenging for minority students, those with disabilities, and ESL (English as a Second Language) learners, the Daily Mail reported.
Prior to the pandemic, high school graduates were mandated to achieve certain standardized test scores in reading, writing, and math to receive their diplomas. However, this practice was temporarily halted due to the pandemic-induced closure of schools and subsequent suspension of standardized tests.
While the board's decision means that these tests will no longer dictate graduation eligibility for the upcoming five years, they will still be conducted in most Oregon high schools. State board member Vicky López Sánchez emphasized that the main change is in the application of these test scores.
"The only thing we are suspending is the inappropriate use of how those assessments were being used," she commented, endorsing the decision as being in the "best interest" of the students.
Many have voiced their concerns regarding the suspension. Hundreds submitted public comments advocating for the restoration of the standards. Guadalupe Martinez Zapata, the Board Chair, however, saw this as a "campaign of misinformation" and, in a previous meeting, drew parallels between certain criticisms and "racial superiority arguments," per the Daily Mail.
Christine Drazan, a former gubernatorial contender, communicated to FOX News that desiring effective learning for students is not a racially biased standpoint.
"It is not bigoted, it is not racist to want your student to be able to actually learn," she said.
Drazan highlighted this as part of a broader educational debate, pointing out that officials are now contemplating an 'equity grading' system in place of the conventional grading scale.
In her words, the proposed changes entail that "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."
"They're not going to have homework that they grade because having homework somehow they view as being inequitable," she added.
The initial suspension of the skills requirement was introduced during Governor Kate Brown's tenure, amid the pandemic.