Oregon Governor Signs Bill Letting Students Graduate Without Proving They Can Read, Write, or Do Math

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Oregon’s governor recently signed a bill that allows high school students to graduate without proving they can read, write, or do math.

Oregon Senate Bill 744 (pdf) states that students “may not be required to show proficiency in Essential Learning Skills as a condition of receiving a high school diploma” in the next three school years.

“This 2021 Act being necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is declared to exist, and this 2021 Act takes effect on its passage,” it states.

The Oregon House passed the bill 38–18 in June, followed by the state Senate in a 16–13 vote.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown quietly signed the bill into law last month. Her office did not announce the signing. That move was not entered into the legislative database for about two weeks, until July 29, and people who signed up for alerts on action on the bill never received one, The Oregonian reported.

Brown’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Charles Boyle, an aide to the Democrat, told the paper that suspending the proficiency requirements 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 supports,” Boyle added.

The bill suspends the requirements while a review is conducted. The Oregon Department of Education is guided to evaluate, in part, high school diploma requirements in other states. Officials also must identify “the causes of disparities that have resulted from the requirements for high school diplomas in this state” and “whether the requirements for high school diplomas in this state have been applied inequitably to different student populations.”

The department is being told to use a process that is “equitable” in developing recommendations for changes to the requirements for a high school diploma.

By Zachary Stieber

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