Rep. Cramer: Defending graduation requirements

State Representative Tracy Cramer,
Press Release

Representative Tracy Cramer (R-Gervais) is calling on the State Board of Education to remove consideration of suspending the Essential Skills Learning requirement for another four years.

In a letter to the Board, Cramer outlined concerns about public input, lack of accountability, and using the consent calendar to rush through such a controversial policy.

Item 3A on the Board’s September 21, 2023 agenda fast-tracks the suspension of the Essential Learning Skills assessments through the 2027-2028 school year. These assessments measure students’ ability to read, write, and do math before graduation.

“At the same time we see graduation rates inching up, we see a dramatic decline in academic achievement,” Representative Cramer said. “Our schools should be educating our kids, not just credentialing them without setting them up for future success. What good is a diploma if you can’t read at grade level? Repealing graduation standards was a disservice to students in 2021, and it still is today. Parents are already pulling their kid public schools at a record pace, and these kinds of back-room decisions continue to erode their trust.”

Senate Bill 744 (2021) suspended the Essential Skills Learning Requirement through the end of this school year. It also gave the Oregon Board of Education the unilateral authority to suspend them in the future or even require them at all.

The State Board’s Policy Manual states that “items may be placed on the consent agenda upon the recommendation of the superintendent.” The Governor is the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The staff summary of item 3A acknowledges that the move to suspend graduation requirements for another four years “may also result in less student accessibility, public transparency, and comparability.”