Eliminating Academic Requirements for High School Students Does More Harm Than Good


Staff Writer, Ananya Kotian

Ananya Kotian, Staff Writer

This past August, the governor of Oregon, Kate Brown signed a bill eliminating the academic requirements for high school graduation.That is, high school students in Oregon will no longer be required to prove that they can write or do math in order to graduate. Brown’s reason for doing so was that not all students test well. While it may be true that every student may not be able to demonstrate their peak academic performance through standardized tests, they should be able to demonstrate basic reading and writing skills in order to graduate and either begin college or a career. 

A spokesperson for the governor claimed that another reason the governor passed this bill was to “benefit the Black, Latino, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color residing in Oregon.” While at first glance it may seem that this new bill is attempting to help underrepresented communities, isn’t it just undermining their capabilities and lowering the standards of education?

Saying that a bill lowering the educational standards is beneficial for students of color implies that students of color are unable to reach a high standard of education on their own and cannot graduate without assistance from legislation, which is completely untrue. Many communities of color have a high standard of education and seek higher education after high school. According to census education statistics, Asian Americans have the highest rate of graduating high school and obtaining bachelor’s degrees, and also go on to make some of the highest salaries in the US. Although other communities of color may not currently have rates as high, these rates are increasing rapidly, with the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to black students increasing by 75% and by 202% for hispanic students from the years 2000-2015.

In regards to the standard of education being lowered, as most Republicans argue will happen as a result of this bill, the bill clearly states “If the department concludes that demonstrations of proficiency of Essential Learning Skills should be retained, the department shall provide recommendations for alternative methods for students to demonstrate proficiency  in skills or academic content areas that are not related to career and technical education”. If students are not required to show that they are proficient in skills relating to career and technical education, which is exactly what they will be embarking on post-graduation, how will it be determined that they are ready for these experiences? In addition, if students are not able to demonstrate the standard skills entailed in the previous requirements, this means that they are not yet ready to move on from a secondary education. This not only poses a danger to the productivity of society, but to the students themselves. If they enter higher education or the workforce lacking the skills they need, they will not be able to succeed, thus negatively impacting their lives.

This bill seems to do more harm than good. Lowering education standards under the guise of racial equality is a disadvantage to the already average American education system, and treats minorities as an inferior group. True racial equality would amount to all students being held to the same (and a higher) educational standard.