Oregon Suspends Need For High School Graduates To Be Proficient in Reading, Writing, and Math

I was once told by a pilot that jet bridges are the most dangerous places in aviation because “no one dies on the plane.” When someone has a fatal episode on a plane, the preference is to move the person outside to “call the code” on the bridge rather than require the plane to be held or quarantined due to the death. If you just move them outside, they died somewhere else. The result is that it can be challenging to determine how many people actually die on airplanes.

That story came to mind this week as more schools moved to end standardized testing — a move that can guarantee no one fails in their schools. In this case, students who lack proficiency in basic subjects are being sent out into society or even college to fail somewhere else. Anywhere other than the school.

Many of us have long objected to the chronic failure of public schools in major cities like New York, Detroit, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore to achieve bare proficiency for many students in reading, writing, and math. The response in many districts is for some to declare standardized testing or meritocracy as racist while other district eliminate special programs or schools for gifted students. Oregon has found a simpler approach. Gov. Kate Brown (D) just signed a bill last month that drops any proficiency requirement in reading, writing or math, before graduation. Problem solved.

The short bill includes this provision:

“SECTION 3. Notwithstanding any rules adopted by the State Board of Education, a student may not be required to show proficiency in Essential Learning Skills as a condition of receiving a high school diploma during the 2021-2022, 2022-2023 or 2023-2024 school year.”

The pandemic was the basis for initial suspension of such requirements but now it is being extended. The call for a more “inclusive and equitable review of graduation and proficiency requirements” was supported by Foundations for a Better Oregon to change requirement to “reflect what every student needs to thrive in the 21st century.” That appears not to include proven proficiency in being able to write, read, or do simple math. The supporters insist that it is unfair to require students to show knowledge on tests.

Charles Boyle, the deputy communications director from Gov. Brown’s office, is quoted as saying that the new standards for graduation will help benefit the state’s “Black, Latino, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color.”

The “benefit” however is more to the school district in getting kids out the door with a diploma without shouldering the burden to get them to a point of bare proficiency. Teachers like Larry Lewin testified in support of the change:

“The students I tutored at North Eugene High School were largely Latinx kids, and to a one, they were resigned, fatalistic, and lacking any hope for graduating with their classmates. They knew the score – they knew they were losers in the system. No amount of coaching, cajoling, mentoring from me would inspire them to want to write better. The Essential Skills Requirement had already sunk them. I was not teaching how to write, how to communicate, how to use language for a purpose; I was test prepping them – again.”

There is value to what Lewin says about “teaching to the test” and the need to focus on substantive learning. I respect him for his continuing commitment to his students and his sincere opposition to testing. However, it is chilling to see a former public school teacher say that “no amount of coaching, cajoling, mentoring from me would inspire [Hispanic kids] to want to write better.” That is the point of education. We have to get kids to reach a level of bare proficiency and establish that ability with an objective test. If you have proficiency in writing or reading, you should be able to write or read on a standardized test.

The move in Oregon is part of a larger effort to eliminate standardized testing and scores on every level of our educational system. If there are no such standardized scores, there is no ability to easily compare the achievement of schools or even the achievement of students applying for admission. Recently, the University of California system joined the “test-blind” movement and said it would end the use of the SAT and ACT in its admissions decisions. The move followed a decision of California voters not to lift the long ban on affirmative action in education under state law.  Many have decried standardized testing as vehicles for white supremacy.

The elimination of standardized testing means that it would be much more difficult to prove that the universities were still engaging in racial discrimination or preferences. With no testing scores for comparison, it would be nearly impossible to show that race was the major or dominant factor in admissions.

University of California President Janet Napolitano sought to eliminate standardized testing by assembling the Standardized Testing Task Force in 2019. Many people expected the task force to recommend the cessation of standardized testing. However, the Task Force surprised many (most notably Napolitano herself) by releasing a final report that concluded that standardized testing was not just reliable by that “at UC, test scores are currently better predictors of first-year GPA than high school grade point average (HSGPA), and about as good at predicting first-year retention, [University] GPA, and graduation.” It even found that “test scores are predictive for all demographic groups and disciplines … In fact, test scores are better predictors of success for students who are Underrepresented Minority Students (URMs), who are first generation, or whose families are low-income.”

Despite those conclusions, Napolitano simply announced a cessation of the use of such scores in admissions.

With states like Oregon now eliminating the need to establish proficiency on basic subjects with standardized tests, American education faces the perfect storm. Despite record expenditures on public schools, we are still failing students, particularly minority students, in teaching the basis subjects needed to succeed in life. We will then graduate the students by removing testing barriers for graduation. Then some may go to colleges and universities that have eliminated standardized testing for admission. At every stage in their education, they have been pushed through by educators without objective proof that they are minimally educated. That certainly guarantees high graduation rates or improved diversity admissions. However, these students are still left at a sub-proficient state as they enter an increasingly competitive job market and economy. Any failures will come down the road when they will be asked to write, read, or add by someone who is looking for actual work product. They will then be outside of the educational system and any failures will not be attributed to public educators.

If we truly care for these students, we cannot rig the system to just kick them down the road toward failure. It is like declaring patients healthy by just looking at them and sending them on their way. We have the ability to measure proficiency and we have the moral obligation to face our own failures in helping these kids achieve it.

This column appeared on Fox.com

Update: After the posting of this blog, I heard from retired teacher Larry Lewin, who felt that his views were not accurately reflected in the coverage of this controversy. I offered to have him write a response to be posted with this column so the readers will get his full views. He sent the following:

“I want to correct my position on Oregon’s new graduation law that was cited in Professor Turley’s Fox News article “Oregon, Others Ditch Standardized Tests – It’s Our Kids Who Will Be Hurt Most.”
My quote that “no amount of coaching, cajoling, mentoring from me [as a volunteer] would inspire [Hispanic kids] to want to write better” clearly was in the context of writing on the graduation test, not in general classwork. I spent my teaching career working with students to write better. Also, the Oregon law was misrepresented: It does not remove any proficiency requirement for graduation. The actual law states, “Prohibit State Board of Education from requiring for high school diploma that student show proficiency in any academic content area if student successfully completed credit requirements.” In other words, like millions of you, I graduated high school based on course credit requirements and a passing GPA, and now my state gives back to its students the same playing field. At least 19 other states have also removed their graduation test requirement because they are unfair.
My issue is not with assessing students’ proficiencies — as a teacher I was my job to do that. My issue is with selecting the best measure to accomplish this. Standardized tests are not a good fit. I suggest in-class work samples that are designed to reflect actual course content and skills and are scored objectively with a common scoring guide. Ideally, multiple readers — other teachers, trained parents, community specialists — would also read and score student work.
Larry Lewin
retired public school teacher
Eugene, OR”

229 thoughts on “Oregon Suspends Need For High School Graduates To Be Proficient in Reading, Writing, and Math”

  1. When everyone is special, no one is.

    I read about Oregon’s latest swan song to the bottom this morning.

    Schools are not doing away with testing and tracking for any sort of “equality” or grand purpose. They are doing so to avoid being judged on the quality fo their work. When a large proportion of students fail to graduate, the causes are scrutinized. Then we have difficult discussions about the quality of education, and the hurdles in overcoming education gaps in ever increasing numbers of migrant kids. We start asking about why there are racial disparities in education outcomes, which will lead us to the dismal effects of single motherhood on the outcome of their progeny. Then there are the cultural differences in attitudes towards education at the micro level – the family. Ben Carson’s mother instilled a strong value upon education, including self education at a library. Her son turned his life around and became a world-renowned neurosurgeon. Volunteering in my son’s classrooms, I have observed some parents actively put in the effort to teach their children school doesn’t matter, grades don’t matter, and they don’t have to listen to the teacher. If those kids don’t get anywhere, who are they going to blame?

    My state of CA suspended their CAASPP testing for 2020 and 2021. If they had held state testing, then there would be data documenting the precipitous drop in student performance during the pandemic, creating pressure to reopen schools.

    Even with state testing, the teachers union and the public education system grits its teeth and digs its heels in against using literacy science, and instead clings to disproven methods like blended language, a repackaged version of whole language, with its attendant result of 40% of children not reading at grade level.

    Meanwhile, the racist ideology of CRT has spread like a cancer throughout the US. Think your conservative state is immune? Guess again. This trickles down from the DOE, and regardless of how conservative your community is, it appears that the most Left leaning people available still manage to run the education system.

    Trust us; we’re education professionals has become ludicrous.

    1. Karen says:

      “Trust us; we’re education professionals has become ludicrous.”

      Distrust in government started in earnest with Reagan’s:

      “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

      Now Trumpism is spreading that distrust to all professions, the media and the college-educated. In 2016, Trump actually admitted that he loved the poorly educated because the Trumpists came out in droves to vote for him.

      1. Jeff S.,
        I wouldn’t blame Trump for distrust in education ‘professionsls’. They have a tendency to follow fads and jump on bandwagons. That has been happening for decades. They push absurdities like kids will just “pick up” good grammar and spelling as they read, so why do kids need to learn phonics, spelling or grammar. Enough nonsense that ends up not working and people lose trust.

        1. Hi Prairie Rose,

          You have a point. In my high school, I had to study 3 years of Latin, a dead language! Nonetheless, I trust teachers over Trump because it was determined that he speaks at a 4th grade level which accounts for his affinity to Trumpists.

          1. Jeff S.
            ” I had to study 3 years of Latin, a dead language”

            What was written in Latin is not dead–Cicero, Virgil, Marcus Aurelius…

            “Trump because it was determined that he speaks at a 4th grade level which accounts for his affinity to Trumpists.”

            He spoke that way because that was the audience he wished to speak to. That does not in any way indicate his capacity for speech and thought.

            1. Trump’s reason for existence is to build things or build things up. Jeff’s purpose is to tear things down without any idea of what next need be done.

            2. Prairie,

              You may be right that Trump spoke to a level that his audience could understand. Talk about his low expectations of his listeners. Just goes to show that Trump was a better conman than I thought!

              Trump certainly believed that he was the smartest man in the room even if no one else did. He tweeted:

              “My two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.”

              If you say so, Donald…

              1. Jeff S.,
                That’s not really fair. If Trump was talking to people at a 4th grade literacy level, it was probably because he wanted a wider swath of Americans to understand what he had to say.

                “average of roughly $48,000 earned by adults who are just below proficiency (Level 2) and much higher than those at the lowest levels of literacy (Levels 0 and 1), who earn just over $34,000 on average.”


                About half of US adults read at a Level 2 or lower literacy level. That means half of Americans cannot read at an 8th grade reading level.


                To whom was Trump supposed to be speaking? Just college-educated Americans?

                It seems to me Trump did not have low expectations; it appears he was realistic. He came across to many folks as not being high-falutin’. That mattered to them because many felt like a certain segment of society talked down to them. Trump spoke to his audience rather than at them.

                Observe him carefully.

                1. Prairie,

                  I have never doubted Trump’s ability to manipulate people who are at a disadvantage. Every conman knows his mark. I have observed him as have many psychiatrists who have diagnosed him. These doctors have said that observing Trump in action is far indicative of his personality disorders than they could have ever learned by interviewing him in person. Patients deny their abnormalities to a psychiatric, but the conduct the doctors saw on television night after night doesn’t lie.

                  I readily concede that Biden is failing mentally unlike Trumpists who will lie that Trump is an honest man despite his long history of mendacity.

                  1. Jeff,
                    “I have never doubted Trump’s ability to manipulate people who are at a disadvantage.”

                    Be cautious in your assessment of who fits that description.

                    1. Prairie,

                      Who do you have in mind? I don’t claim that Trump is singular in that department. I insist that he is preeminent. He has been a shrewd salesman his whole life. Not even a Trumpist can gainsay that statement! Trump himself would not deny that he could sell a gold-platted ice machine to an Inuit! He is a consummate bullsh*tter.

                      You deny that?

                    2. ” to manipulate people who are at a disadvantage.””

                      Prairie, how do you think the left gains power. Take note they take from Peter’s pocket to pay off Paul and then take from Paul’s pocket to pay off Peter.

                      Jeff is a charlatan.

        2. “I wouldn’t blame Trump for distrust in education ‘professionsls’. “

          Prairie, you are correct.

          “It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.” _Thomas Sowell

  2. As long as you can color in the circle next to the democrat on the ballot..you are fine..do not forget to hit the buffet for robots on the way to the government office for your next undeserved payment.

  3. So according to this the group of minorities mentioned are incapable of learning or are the “teachers” incapable of educating?
    If this goes down fire all teachers, really no need for them. Pay a parent to come to these buildings we used to call “schools”, turn a TV on, hand out legos, coloring books, give the kids a lunch and send them home at day’s end.
    Someone, some group, somewhere or right here really want this nation to fall on its caboose. Pure insanity.

    1. The left has been telling us that blacks are too dumb to figure out how to get an ID, and now the left is telling us they are too dumb to learn in school, so they need to dumb it down for everyone.

  4. I wonder if these “educators” watched the movie “Idiocracy” and saw the society depicted as a laudable goal.

  5. A couple of anecdotal occurrences I had with young employees in the construction industry. First a young man in early 20’s and a high school graduate was asked how many 16th’s are there in an inch. After thinking for a few seconds he reasoned that there were 15 total, after that question he was asked how many 8th,s there were, again he eliminated the first one. After this occurrence I instructed the foreman of the crew to start a basis math class at the start of every day. Within 6 months this young man knew how to add, subtract and divide fractions, knew about Pythagoras’s Theorem and how to apply it to his work when necessary, he also learned how to add, subtract, multiply and divide small equations in his head. Another example is a young man about 25 years old who could not follow basic instructions. He never completed high school dropping out in his freshman year. Asked the reason for dropping out he said that the teachers, administrators and counselors would always assume he was lacking in intelligence or as he said being a “dimwit”. He was far from that. What this young man lacked was the capability to focus having a form of ADD or ADHD. Through efforts by his foreman, fellow workers and company support, he was able to overcome the major problems associated with ADD or ADHD. Both these young men are a success today some 15 years later, one to become a superintendent working on highway and commercial projects and the other to become a contractor.

    I bring these two gentlemen up to illustrate the disregard that the public education system has a general rule; they do not care what the outcome is. Woke theory or some other nonsense is more important than the basics needed in life. Send them into the waters of life and hope they learn how to swim.

    1. George,

      I grew up near a family with three boys. They had terrible parents. The oldest, a year younger than me was naturally smart. The middle one, two years younger than me, was put in “special” classes all through grade school. The youngest one got into a lot of trouble. I was pretty close friends with the two oldest. When I went to college and came back one summer the middle kid had graduated high school and was thinking of going to the community college that my dad taught at for 30 years. He was nervous about taking any math because he was always put in lower level classes. I told him he should go for it and take a trigonometry class and showed him the whole unit circle concept and how it explained quite a bit of trig just from it. Well, he took the class and passed. He went on to take calculus from my dad all the way through diff. equations and for a 4.0 in it. My dad was amazed. He went on to Michigan and became an engineer and worked in the auto industry last I heard. I like to think my simple gesture of believing in him helped light the fuse for him. You can never learn to late and it’s never to late to learn.

  6. Why not just do away with schools? They are becoming useless anyway, unless, of course, if you consider brainwashing and indoctrinating our youth in Marxism to be useful.

  7. I don’t get it. Then what’s the “Diploma” for?

    The “everyone gets an award” mentality they introduced into sports was bad enough and has been around for a while. I’ll be the first to admit I sucked at sports in grade school. Not so much because I was that bad at them but because I was a year younger than most kids in my grade as my Mom had started me early in first grade, so most of the kids were a year older than me, and its hard to play basketball when everyone’s a head taller than you. I’ll never forget trying out for the little grade school team they were starting at our school right there on the DC line in 1969. I was 9 and everyone else was 10 and 11. No one passed me the ball and I couldn’t get it because I was too small, arms too short and everyone was just stepping around me like I wasn’t there. I finally grumbled a complaint saying I never get a basket because I never get the ball. The gym teacher said “Ok everyone line up for 2 free throws so the little baby can have a shot”. (yes that’s exactly what he said) I was embarrassed obviously but I was determined to show them I was good enough and so everyone lined up on the free throw line, most heckling me but I ignored it and made the first shot to everyone’s amazement (I was really small and skinny) and I’ll never forget that rush I felt as that thing swished through in front of all my hecklers and critics who immediately piped down when it cleared the net. Then I missed the second shot. The ball bounced off the backboard and everyone went back to playing keep away with the ball from me and I never got on the team.

    But I got to try, come close but fail. Had I’d made the second shot I think they’d have given me a chance, but I just wasn’t that good. I’d gotten handed two free throws, and got lucky on the first one. But I’d shown I was just average with no special skill on the second shot. And I was defeated a little by it sure, but I lived with it. I’m sure it helped me to deal with failures I’d encounter later in life too, and how not to let them stop me simply because I’d not succeeded at one thing I tried. Especially since I knew I didn’t deserve that free throw the gym teacher had given me, and I didn’t actually feel like I deserved it either. I was happy I made the first shot and gotten the chance to show them that I could at least throw the ball far enough to reach the regulation height basket, but I knew it wasn’t the same. They were making allowances for me I didn’t really deserve. Which helped me get over it I and accepted the fact I wasn’t headed for a stellar career with the Washington Bullet’s or anything close and got on with kid life.

    Just a few years later as a teenager I found out I was good at other sports and went on to win awards at local tournaments in martial arts as I had joined the old but locally famous “Jhoon Rhee” Tae Kwon Do schools. joining at the PG Plaza facility there in Hyattsville MD, (those old enough will remember their commercials “nobody bothers me….nobody bothers me either..” ; those were actually Mr Rhee’s own grandkids) and learned a lot about fair play, winning and losing, etc. They didn’t hand out awards to losers at these tournaments. Later I went on to become a proficient rock climber and guide out west for over a decade of my younger life, working in the Wasatch, Uinta and Rocky mountains having the time of my life. Not making the team didn’t destroy my will, my ego or my determination. It helped me cope with failure, as well as learn the difference between earned and unearned success and it spurred me on to do better in other areas, and find my path as it were.

    But boy I got good at reading and writing, and I even got pretty good at math. My Mom knew I would. She knew being with older kids would make me work harder and when I went out in life I’d take that with me. After all doesn’t matter the job, most career type jobs require you to be proficient in reading and writing and most require at least some math. You’d be surprised at how many blue collar jobs require math. In my job now I have to routinely calculate weight and stress factors to determine cable strengths and placements for very large trees. You need math for lots of things in life. Reading and writing reports to my superiors is also required. So even to do a “grunt” job, like mine, its surprising how much reading, writing and arithmetic come into play in every day life.

    So sorry for the trip down memory lane, I tend to wander there a bit lol, but the points pretty obvious. Getting the chance to try, fail, even get heckled a bit didn’t defeat me, it just helped me prepare for all the times in life down the road when I’d try and fail by helping me learn how to cope.

    So I never got nor agreed with the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality and this new thing I am reading this morning, this thing about not requiring kids to prove they are competent at the 3 basics, reading, writing and “rithmetic”… I don’t get. How is that even legal? I mean don’t they arrest parents for bribing teachers to get diplomas for their kids? Didn’t we just see Felicity Huffman or someone and a bunch of other actors and actresses hauled into court for literally bribing colleges for passing grades for kids who did not produce passing work?

    So how can a school legally hand out diplomas to people who can’t read or write at the level the diploma says they can? I’m not the lawyer or legal expert here so I’ll leave that to higher pay grades but seems to me to be the same thing. After all you hand this guy or gal a diploma knowing they can’t read or write well enough then send them out to the world and then present themselves to a business that requires those things, hand them the diploma you for want of a better word “fraudulently” gave to them, ..how is that not defrauding that business? Job says you need to read and write and do math, and need a high school diploma to do it. Person gets high school diploma even though they can’t do what the diploma indicates they can do and the school knew they couldn’t, isn’t that fraud?

    Anyway sorry this was so long, just thinking out loud a bit and really confused by this new “no standard standard”. I don’t get how the public school system in Oregon or any state, can fraudulently hand out diplomas to kids that will be presented to places of business, as proof of literacy and basic education.

    Nor do I get the mentality, that says black people or Latino people are just not as smart as whites. I think in many cases their environments make it impossible for them to learn, as in high crime areas which many black and Latino children grow up in, it would be impossible to learn with all the anarchy going on in their lives simply on the trip to and from school, where getting home alive is a challenge. I don’t see them learning in those environments. Whether they were black, white or whatever. They need a reasonably safe and stable environment to live in, go to school in and to travel to and from school in. Like any kid. But level THAT playing field, and I don’t see how anyone can make the argument that being black or Mexican means your brain doesn’t function like a human brain. It does. But bills like this say they are less than whites.

    If I were black or Latino, I’d not want a bill being introduced on my behalf, that said my kids were dumber than the white peoples.

    Nope, I just don’t get it.

    1. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. You and I are the same age and we grew up in a completely different culture than what is being created today. High school diplomas use to mean a reliable standard had been achieved. It meant something when applying for entrance into colleges, universities and businesses. As someone pointed out earlier, once applicants were allowed to take remedial (high school level) courses in college, then high school graduation standards could be less rigorous. This has a trickle down effect and middle school promotion standards could be less rigorous, and so on.

      I had a Master Chief in the Navy I worked for and his take on college degrees was that they didn’t so much signify how smart an individual had become, but more importantly, the graduate had demonstrated the initiative to complete something they started. Employers were hiring on that experience and initiative. Once the need for initiative is removed and diplomas are handed out like candy, employers will be forced to make hiring decisions on some other standard. I wouldn’t be surprised to see businesses relocate to states where those old timey education standards are still respected.

  8. Kudos to Oregon. The introduction of standardized testing as a requirement for graduation was one of the worst policies this nation’s state legislatures inflicted on students and schools in the past 50 years.

    1. Why bother to require attendance at school? If students want to learn, if students’ parents encourage them to learn and if teachers/schools do their jobs … no problem with testing, including the standardized ones. We took standardized tests in the 1950s – early 1960s that were administered throughout the Pittsburgh PA diocese; the sisters did not need to “teach to the tests” as they taught us all year long – much to the delight of parents.

      1. I went to a Catholic grade school and a public high school in Pittsburgh. Of the top 20 students in my high school graduating class, the overwhelming majority were from the Catholic grade schools.

    2. Standardized testing is not the most desirable way of teaching, but unless you have a better suggestion, that type of testing is the only way, at present, to provide some standards for graduation.

      In NYC, the education of inner-city kids was devastating. They have standardized testing and used that standardized testing to compare public and charter schools. The results were fantastic for charter school children who exceeded the testing scores. Charter school students graduated with proficiency and above, while some went to college. The public schools had students that were mostly not proficient.

      The problem with NYC schools is Democrat policies combined with the teacher’s union. They are presently devastating the elite schools for the gifted and trying to do the same to charter schools. Democrats like to keep people on their plantations, and the teacher’s union doesn’t care much about the welfare of the students. That has been documented multiple times, including videos of teacher union executives agreeing to do illegal things.

      1. S. Meyer,
        Performing well on a standardized test is somewhat sideways from being well-educated or a good thinker. Plenty of people out there who most assuredly got great test scores but are not now carefully thinking through the science in front of their noses.

        1. Prairie, I agree, but I am not looking for failing students to become well educated. I am looking for them to learn the basics of math and English.

          When we graduate students that can’t balance a checkbook or read a simple set of rules at a job, we have failed those students. I am looking for better, much better, and that is exactly what charter schools are doing in NYC.

          Do you have a better way of assessing this particular group of students? What is your goal?

          1. S. Meyer,
            “I am looking for them to learn the basics of math and English.”

            That’s fair. However, they do need a bit more to be able to participate in our constitutional republic.

            Also, if you are lauding their ability to hold their own on these tests in relation to their more well-heeled fellow students, then you do want them to learn more than the basics of math and English.

            “Do you have a better way of assessing this particular group of students?”
            “What is your goal?”

            These are good questions.

            I will try to answer before bedtime. I have after-dinner errands to run.

            1. “That’s fair. However, they do need a bit more to be able to participate in our constitutional republic.”

              Prairie, that would be nice, but children are not reasonably proficient in math or English in the inner cities. The charter schools go beyond the basics, and what would have previously been a failure might even end up in college.

              “Also, if you are lauding their ability to hold their own on these tests in relation to their more well-heeled fellow students, then you do want them to learn more than the basics of math and English.”

              That is why I like NYC charter schools. Many of the children become competitive with well-heeled students.

              I believe that college should not be a necessity. Anyone who graduates from school should have learned enough to go out into the world.

            2. S. Meyer,
              ““Do you have a better way of assessing this particular group of students?”

              Standardized tests tend to be limited to multiple-choice-type questions. These tests also tend to have a narrow focus mostly on math and reading, perhaps some science, as well. History, social studies, and the arts are essentially ignored. These subjects are important elements of a sound education, too. Writing is one of the most important elements, considering learning to write well helps students develop their ability to think and reason and communicate their knowledge and understanding.

              While I would include standardized tests as a tool to assess some of their education, it ought to be used as a dipstick only. And, I would like to expand what is assessed to include history, social studies, and the arts. I’d like for students to participate in a written or oral component. Whether students can make cross-curricular connections or apply their knowledge is also a worthwhile element to explore. I also disagree with some of these tests happening on a yearly basis since so much time is devoted to prepping for the test. Why not just in 3rd, 5th, and 8th? Not sure yet what, if anything, needs to be done at the high school level. There is the SAT and ACT already.

              Many homeschool students are asked to present a portfolio of their work to qualified evaluators, in addition to any requisite standardized tests. True, this would deteriorate the ‘standardized’ component, but that might be beneficial. Finding the outliers, those who may not test well but who nonetheless demonstrate strong thinking skills and creativity would be of benefit to a culture that could use a little more innovation.

              Are there some good open-ended questions that students would have to answer that could demonstrate they have learned to not only synthesize information but that they can also effectively communicate their ideas?

              “What is your goal?”

              I want students to be able to receive a sound education that will be practical for their lives and livelihoods, as well as one that prepares them to wisely participate in a constitutional republic, which means they are able to self-govern at an individual level and within their communities. Some degree of a classical education would accomplish this. The framework can provide a solid foundation and as students’ needs develop, a greater and greater degree of complexity and depth can be built into it.

              1. I don’t think there is much disagreement about standardized testing lacking sophistication. The question is what you put in its place.

                You want

                1) increasing the number of tests
                2) written and oral components
                3) I am not sure if the SAT can be used as a substitute.
                4) Open ended-question

                Everything you do takes resources. What are you willing to trade-off?

                1. S. Meyer,
                  If the tests are not done yearly, then despite adding a few sections, then the total number of tests would not increase.

                  Why could the SAT or ACT not be used as a substitute at the high school level? Or, what about portfolios of the students’ work being assessed?

                  “The question is what you put in its place.”
                  I’m tempted to say nothing. 🙂 Deep-six the darn things.

                  What would you do to address the lack of sophistication in the tests? What are your ideas?

                  …as well as the tendency to teach to the tests, gaming of the system, and/or discounting important subjects that are not much covered on the current tests. I suspect Socrates, Plato and Jefferson would be horrified by these tests.

                  “Everything you do takes resources. What are you willing to trade-off?”
                  Tempted to say the teacher’s unions. The excess administrative state of education bureaucrats.

                  1. Standardized tests have value. One is not teaching to a test when the question is how much is 5X5, nor is it teaching to a test when one is asked vocabulary, reading comprehension, spelling, grammar questions etc. You seem to think such testing is terrible, or at least that is how it seems, “Deep-six the darn things.”

                    You would say nothing goes in their place? Then how do you know the children are being taught. We know this in NYC because of their Regents exams and we know that the Charter schools did fantastic when compared to the comparative public schools. Your answer seems to be bury that knowledge, it doesn’t conform to your personal beliefs.

                    I want the inner city kids to have a life and to have a good one they need better education then a lot of people are willing to give them.

                    1. S. Meyer,
                      “You seem to think such testing is terrible, or at least that is how it seems, “Deep-six the darn things.””

                      They are being used badly. I’d consider portfolios as a better measure of a student’s overall knowledge, skills, and development. I’m not fully opposed to standardized tests. They are a poor measurement. Better than nothing, but a poor measurement, especially if they are used as the gold standard to demonstrate success and knowledge. Fool’s gold.

                    2. “They are being used badly.”

                      Prairie, That is a meaningless statement. Testing might be poorly used and still provide meaningful use. You have to explain in precise terms why their use is so bad that they give no benefit.

                      I know historically, the NY Regents exam was good for most things.

                      “I’d consider portfolios as a better measure of a student’s overall knowledge, skills, and development.”

                      Portfolios are used in conjunction with the exams. Tell us what in the portfolio can replace the exam and at what cost. Include the trade-offs involved.

                      “I’m not fully opposed to standardized tests.”

                      Another meaningless statement that permits a person to be on both sides of the argument simultaneously without committing themselves. Let us know what rationals you have to be opposed to and to agree. Then, provide which side has your support.

      2. S. Meyer,
        Gaming the system to maintain or improve scores does not mean students are being well-educated. I’m not saying that is what is happening at all these charter schools or all public schools. But, it does happen in some places.

        Testing does not provide the standards. The standards for excellence come before and the testing should be a kind of reflection. But, it is like seeing through a glass, darkly.

        A conversation could be had about what would be a better means of quantifying knowledge and thinking prowess.

        1. Prairie, gaming the system is what bad teachers do when they don’t know how to teach. Blame the teachers. Blame the teacher’s union. Blame Democrat policies.

          I worry about gaming the system but recognize that it is broken, so first, I will see to it that children learn mathematics and English.

          What is your better way of assessing this particular group of students? What is your goal? No better answer means acceptance of the best available means.

          Mine is that all have a basic facility in math and English to hold jobs and know how to improve their knowledge after they graduate.

          1. S. Meyer,
            “gaming the system is what bad teachers do”

            This problem would likely fall more squarely in the laps of administrators who would be in charge of classes and curricula…

            1. The fault always should travel to leadership, but teachers are responsible as well. I think it was in Chicago where there was some type of pay to play. The economist Steve Levitt discovered teachers changing student test results to let themselves look better. The school system fired some teachers who cheated, keeping others where they weren’t entirely sure cheating occurred.

              1. S. Meyer,
                There will always be some bad apples. The school culture and consistently applied accountability helps prevent such nonsense.

                I’d cast aspersions on politicians for turning standardized tests into sticks they could use to bludgeon school districts (they are partly to blame for the Frankenstein’s monster schools are getting twisted into).

                I’d also cast aspersions on school boards and communities for being manipulated or taking their eyes of the ball of what constitutes a great education. Are they paying sufficient attention to the goings-on within their district? And, back to the politicians, or worse, the administrative state–to what degree are the state bureaucrats responsible for creating unreasonable mandates, etc?

                Local control would be nice!

                1. “There will always be some bad apples. ”

                  True, but the teaching profession has degenerated horribly. Public schools in many places are there to benefit the union/teachers and the politicians.

                  “The school culture and consistently applied accountability helps prevent such nonsense.”

                  That means we have to get politics out of the schools along with the teachers union (at least how it is functioning today). That is probably one of the reasons why charter schools are so successful in NYC. The teachers union is out. Politicians and local boards set parameters for the charter schools which have met those parameters. They are now successfully teaching children while parents have the opportunity to exert local control.

                  1. S. Meyer,
                    “True, but the teaching profession has degenerated horribly.”

                    I agree! A good chunk of the problem rests with faddish Colleges of ‘Education’.

                    “Public schools in many places are there to benefit the union/teachers and the politicians.”

                    Teachers unions are certainly a problem. What politicians do you mean? Do you mean school board members? They hardly count as politicians, particularly in districts serving only a couple thousand kids or less.

                    1. Teachers are a big voting block and they bring too much undeserved moral authority. In that way they are a political block used predominantly by Democrats and leftists. School board members frequently are supported by politicians. The left isn’t as interested in teaching math and English, so they populate the school boards with political help and push all types of leftism. The right wishes math and English to be taught.

                      Politics starts from the bottom up. Schools were recognized by the left at points of weakness. Indoctrinate children when they are young and bend their critical thinking skills. Make people reliant on what others say and use polls.

                      Poll: Should we spend $1Trillion on widgets? Response will invariably be yes because people don’t know what widgets are so why not buy them. Change the poll to should we tax you an extra $100 so that we can buy $1 Trillion widgets? The answer is no.

                      When have you heard discussions of trade-offs when in school teachers are pushing leftist politics?

                  2. True, but the teaching profession has degenerated horribly. Public schools in many places are there to benefit the union/teachers and the politicians.

                    You notice that Prairie Rose is not content to agree with your qualifier many. She reflexively goes on the defense of the small town public school and their board of education, as if it disproves your point. I’m surprised she hasn’t invoked the nutrition deficiencies in the students and the general apathy of the community towards that “root cause” of declining test scores. Or something like that.

                    Good luck.

                    1. Olly,
                      “She reflexively goes on the defense of the small town public school and their board of education, as if it disproves your point.”

                      What the heck is this about? I’m asking for clarity about what sorts of politicians S. Meyer is talking about.

                      I agree with him that politics should stay the heck out of education.

                      I already apologized to you for not responding quite on target to your exact point earlier. Geez.

                    2. “She reflexively goes on the defense of the small town public school and their board of education, as if it disproves your point. ”

                      Prairie is OK but sometimes has difficulty ridding some ideas that have been pushed into all our heads. I think her background may have been insufficient in the sciences (the hard sciences). In the hard sciences, one learns restraint of one’s impulses and knows how little knowledge any individual has. Sometimes she gets lost in anecdotes and emotions not uncommon to all.

                      Where she stands in the political spectrum is a bit of a mystery to me.

                  3. “Politicians and local boards set parameters for the charter schools which have met those parameters.”

                    Perhaps in NYC they do. In Iowa, the local boards, as far as I understand it, have lost their ability to set parameters for any charter schools wishing to operate in their school districts.

                    1. “have lost their ability to set parameters for any charter schools wishing to operate in their school districts.”

                      Then they need to find new members. The present ones don’t sound qualified.

                    2. S. Meyer,
                      “Then they need to find new members. The present ones don’t sound qualified.”

                      Then you must mean new legislators and governor because that ability was taken from them at the state level.

                    3. No, that doesn’t follow even if those other people should leave as well.

                      If the school board can’t “set parameters for any charter schools…”, they need to leave.

                    4. S. Meyer,
                      “If the school board can’t “set parameters for any charter schools…”, they need to leave.”

                      Maybe the school boards could up and protest. Sure.

                      If the state has legislated away their local control, then, legally, the school boards (and the people whom they represent) have lost their ability to ‘set parameters for any charter schools.’ People in communities lost their local self-governance through that state law.

                    5. Prairie, I am sure you have heard the following: “He who pays the piper calls the song”. That is life. Deal with it. However, state laws are generally quite gross attempting to make all localities follow equal rules. There are plenty of things school boards can do to improve the education of the students. They don’t do it, and the only way to change them is to throw them out. That increases local control.

                      If schools aren’t doing well and there are enough students then the boards should be favoring the testing of new ideas such as charter schools. Don’t hinder the charter schools with the same mess one has hindered the pubic schools with. Let the charter schools meet specific standards set for all students. The first objection will come from teachers and the teachers union. If the board can’t stand up to a union they should go.

                      Board members should be chosen based on a few criteria.

                      1) They should believe in choice.
                      2) Schools exist to educate students.
                      3) Discipline the classroom is essential
                      4) There should be no fear of parents that interfere with the education of the children. If there are multiple choices and a parent doesn’t like their choice because there was too much discipline, the choice is voluntary so the parent can change the modality of education.
                      5) A firm belief that there are only a few subjects that must be learned and that the teachers focus on those specific subjects before engaging in less important material.
                      6) Graduation from one year to the next is not guaranteed. Specific criteria must be met before graduation.

  9. This is a tiny step. Social promotion was almost universally institutionalized two generations ago. This is only the next logical step, call it social graduation.

    Rather than do the hard work of educating kids who come to school with problems, we pretend to help them by giving them a credential that used to mean something, but by giving it away we devalue it. Leaving them with nothing.

    But the teachers and bureaucrats all got paid so nobody cares. This is corrupt at a level that should be incredible but has become commonplace.

  10. Isn’t one of the problems that standardized test scores should not be the only criteria when considering students. I know for myself of course its ancient history, that as someone who analyzed
    questions, because thats what I do, that frequently I would not be able to finish. the cancel culture, anti history group is sad and dangerous.

    1. Those who can:. Teach
      Those who can’t: teach.
      Those who can’t teach:. Teach teachers.

      1. The Albuquerque Journal recently had photos of some teachers in class; they were dressed as if they were going to clean a house or work in a yard. The photos were consistent with my experiences in several Albuquerque grade schools a few years ago when I observed so many teachers not dressed to do an important job; they looked sloppy and not well-groomed. For youngsters not especially excited about school and its importance, I believe the appearance of teachers is a significant factor in letting youngsters know there is something very special about being in a classroom. I recall 1 lay teacher among nuns in my grade school and I recall so many public high school teachers coaching students in debate and speech contests – all this in the 1950s – early 1960s; then, too, professors in college and law school throughout the 1960s were attired and groomed just as people in the business world.

  11. When looking to fill jobs, the business must do it most quickly and least expensively. For some jobs, high school graduation is a fast way of securing an employee. When getting rid of that criterion, which is what they are doing, it makes it more challenging to assess the quality of the applicant. Suddenly, in certain areas, race becomes more important.

      1. Gangs is correct. They will live in their mother’s basement. See the book Gangster for a Day and Steve Levitt’s book that takes the former writer’s information and converts it into an economic analysis.

  12. The bigotry of law expectations on full display. These kids do fine in schools were discipline rules, teachers teach and the curriculum is rigorous. They fail in the Dim education worker’s paradise. Imagine that. IQs do predict success but being from a Dim-run state predicts failure every time.

    1. “These kids do fine in schools were discipline rules, teachers teach and the curriculum is rigorous.”

      NYC charter schools proved that.

      Conservatives set their sights high and succeed. Dims set sights low for their plantation workers and create failure.

    2. Mespo,

      Guess again. The most selective and prestigious colleges and universities are located in Blue States. The pinnacle of Trumpist matriculation is Hillsdale College with an acceptance rate of 48%. Stanford’s acceptance rate is 4%. Any questions?

      1. JS:

        “The most selective and prestigious colleges and universities are located in Blue States.”
        Says who? Liberals fawning over other liberals? I’ll take Hillsdale College (Michigan) graduates over any Ivy graduate anytime. Stanford? Their “holistic” approach to admission means everybody applies because they have no standards. I hear you can get an application from kiosks on skid row.

        1. Before you can practice law, you will need to choose a state that will allow you to complete the bar exam without completing law school. Currently, Washington, Vermont, California and Virginia are the only four states that allow this process. Wyoming, New York and Maine allow lawyers to practice without earning a J.D. degree, although they must have at least some law school experience. A legal apprenticeship may be able to substitute for one or two years or school. If you plan to live in any other state, you will have to complete law school to practice as a lawyer. You can practice law without going to law school. I would say the greatest lawyer and President did NOT go to law school…Abe Lincoln…and I ain’t no lawyer but I sure am smarter that a bunch of folks blogging here…another great lawyer was Clarence Darrow who did NOT go to law school…I rest my case Judges.

        2. I’ll take Hillsdale College (Michigan) graduates over any Ivy graduate anytime.

          I would take a 2.0 graduate from Hillsdale College over a 4.0 graduate from any other school for one reason: I can mentor a graduate to be successful in business if they’ve developed the humility and critical-thinking skills that are core objectives at Hillsdale.

  13. Have you considered a more nefarious reason for lack of testing? Without standardized testing and requirement everything become subjective? Liberal professors are unleashed from testing scores and can proceed to use their internal biases toward students they don’t like? Without objective standards everything becomes subjective!

    1. The least educated also tend to revolt against their masters the least.

      1. One thing missing about this story is any mention of the parents. Do the citizens of Oregon support this?

        1. Difficult to know. They seem to put up with a lot of Leftism these days.

    2. Olly,

      So much the easier for you American Nazis to round them up and do what must be done- if you catch my meaning.

  14. Brown is making a small step on the road to the ultimate goal of many progressives today: cleansing society of all standards of merit, which by definition are corrupt, racist and based on the preservation of white privilege. The American People may gag on this, but this faction has taken power. So why should they stop at standards for education? The “cleansing” wouldn’t be complete if the would-be failures are still allowed to fail after they graduate. We are going to find – if we can’t stop this insanity first – that government is going to burden all of the real producers in society with providing a comfortable lifestyle (read “American Dream”) for every loser-dependent with a worthless degree.

  15. And the novel idea that punishing plagiarism is “spirit murdering” for “people of color” is also being pushed by some activists in academia. What’s the point of doing any work or being honest about it any more? The lazy charlatan equals the hard working and gifted scholar. That’s what they mean by “equity” I suppose.

    1. Leftists have defended (or denied) Martin Luther King’s extensive plagiarism for years.

      1. Trumpists defend and ignore the fact that Tump is a sexual degenerate and inveterate liar. You think Leftists have a monopoly on denialism?

  16. Why do minorities vote for Democrats in overwhelming percentages?

    Dem politicians do not serve minority communities well.

    Minorities are getting the government that they voted for and consequently are cementing themselves into a permanent underclass.

    Then Democrats claim that minorities are victims of “systemic racism”.

    Born stupid, raised ignorant.

  17. Have any of your readers tried understanding many of the Social Media posts today? I had to ask for a translation, because damned if I could understand what was being said! The dumbing down of students started many years ago, and now just seems to be escalating.

    1. Wen Bars:

      Naw the caveman had common sense, hierarchical societal structures and worked. Dims are dumb, equity-minded (whatever that is) and lazy.

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