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Crook County School Board chair upset by state’s suspension of graduate skills testing

(Update: adding video, comments from Crook County School Board chair)

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon Senate Bill 744, which temporarily suspends graduates' essential-skills testing as a requirement to earn a high school diploma, has sparked concern among Central Oregon school districts.

“The essential skills tests might not have been a perfect tool but it was a tool, one of many tools we could use,” Crook County School Board Chair Scott Cooper told NewsChannel 21 on Monday.

Cooper is upset that skills tests in math, reading and writing for graduating students will temporaily be suspended through the 2022-2023 school year.

Gov. Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 744 this summer. The essential-skills testing requirement had been put on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the closure of many schools and students to learn remotely.

The Oregon Department of Education has said the new law will allow the state to develop more equitable graduation requirements. Officials have been told to compare diploma requirements in different states and find ways to reduce disparities and ensure that graduation requirements are fair.

Cooper said the Crook County School District is amending its graduation requirements in order to prove learning proficiency in its students.

“We are amending our graduation standards in response to calls from our community to simply say you have to be proficient in reading, math, and writing if you’re going to graduate from our schools,” Cooper said.

Although some may believe education standards may have gone down in school districts due to the pandemic, Cooper said Crook County has made sure to keep students on track.

“There were lessons we learned from the pandemic about education and how to deliver it that actually made us better,” Copper said. “We learned we don’t have to be as rigid as we thought we did. We learned we can be a lot more flexible.”

Copper added that he feels the removal of the tests was unnecessary.

“We are simply trying to make sure students do have the proficiency that their parents and community would accept,” Cooper said.

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Leslie Cano

Leslie Cano is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Leslie here.



  1. They have always been fair. Its not a race thing.. a discrimination thing. Its a lazy ass lack of effort thing!!!! My daughter who is a straight A+ student will now graduate with kids who can’t write or read or do math?! Most pathetic thing I’ve ever heard. Ive watched her work her self into the dirt for years making sure she gets amazing grades, and now to be put on the same level as kids who refuse to participate and refuse to apply themselves is moronic of this state to allow!! Kate brown is as useless as a flashlight with no batteries, and here she is trying to make out children the same. Anybody who thinks this is a good idea has no sense.

    1. Some disagree, but you are probably a teacher with a diverse group of students from many backgrounds, races, ethnicities, that you want to be successful and have thoroughly examined the issue and discussed your findings with parents and children of many backgrounds after consulting your colleagues (also education experts

  2. What the hack is an “equitable requirement’? You give out the same test to each person and it either passes or not. How will our children compete on a very global market if they no longer required to study to get a diploma? I would much rather see the ones back in school for another 6-12 months who don’t pass than dumbing down the requirement so everyone passes.
    That is so silly that only a democrat finds it logical!

    1. Guess the governor feels students in different background group feel slighted when they don’t do as good on tests. This way the overachievers can underachieve and the ones who struggle with tests won’t get their feelings hurt.

  3. Does this mean we can get a refund on our taxes’, as there will be no proof that the students are being taught anything at all? Why even go to school, OH that’s right, they are not really schools, they are indoctrination centers.

  4. It’s just as well anyway. With the new norm of nobody wanting to work, they won’t need those essential skills anyway. The government will take care of them- coddle them, feed them, house them, praise them…… They will eventually become our future leaders, lol.

  5. This exemplifies how racist these “equity” policies are – to say Oregon’s low performing schools are due to “People of Color” not being able to demonstrate a competent level of math, science or english is abhorrent (that means ‘really bad’ for you High School students of Oregon public schools). So, instead of challenging students and demonstrating the beauty of life-long learning and that one needs to study and apply themselves in order to be successful, they lower standards ensuring more students in Oregon will enter college at a disadvantage. I imagine this will lead to some colleges automatically refusing admission to students from Oregon because they are held to lower standards. I guess it is good that Oregon requires someone to pump your gas.

  6. This plays right into the current Admin’s plans to make sure there are even more people who sign up for government subsistance and don’t forget to vote. They really don’t care about the people in this country other than to stay in power. This should make it completely clear.

  7. As if,
    With career certificate online courses, who really cares.
    During the last 18 months of pandemonium, I’ve earned three certifications, and am learning a fourth.
    Really, just whatever.

    1. Yes earned certs..but can you proof read an email, or count change back to a customer, or figure out an angle needed in construction? All the certs in the world won’t help you if you don’t know the essentials.

      1. Workforce development has those kinds of tests, right? High school assessments happen in multiple ways, right? Like quizzes, essays, presentations, group work, journals, mid-terms, finals in various subjects. Seems a little redundant, unless a kid is hoping to prove proficiency who did not perform well in any of the other measures of proficiency. Perhaps, I am missing the importance of the final big exam of all exams. Why?

  8. I don’t know about you, but when I went to school we needed 24 credits to graduate high school. The proficiency testing came later. Most of us can still do the essentials 30 years later. All the bull$%#^ testing was added later and is unnecessary. It’s all about DATA DATA DATA.

    1. Was just about to say this. The state testing is a load of bull. You want to know how your kid is doing in school? Just look at their grades. These states tests are purely just for data and not for how well an individual is doing in school.

  9. Kate Brown is a dunce. This law is horrible. There should be standards required for all students.
    So tired of all of this race talk – feels like the 60’s!

  10. I thought the general education proficiency in simple math and writing, is a GED. Otherwise, students pass or fail classes throughout high-school including writing and math. If they pass they graduate, right? Their grades reflect, hopefully, many measures of learning and application, no? Even in a pass, fail situation, how does a proficiency exam benefit them? Did the kids pass the high school required classes? If not, did they take the GED (which is not a high school equivalency, but covers basic reading comprehension, writing, and math).

  11. Isn’t multiple measures a better indicator of learning? Teachers, I imagine, use multiple measures to assess learning, no? Throughout the year, no? Any professional with a degree in education AND continuing education credit with current credentials at a high school level care to provide more context as to why your assessments are not enough to demonstrate proficiency to pass high school?

  12. Anyone who thinks that this is temporary is nuts. This bill will accomplish nothing to improve education. It will however, graduate a larger percentage of kids so that the governor can tout a great success. The populous will become even dumber than it is now. Great work by the idiots in charge!

    1. It took Trumpettes almost 20 years to catch-up to climate science and accept climate change is real, 30+ years to realize Regan’s trickle down economics doesn’t work. In another 20-30 years you Trumpettes will realizeTrump played you all like a Trumpet.

      1. No doubt, what a bunch of idiots. all this talk about an “open border”, the “botched” Afghanistan exit, vaccine mandates, inflation…this is all just to distract you from all the great things the Biden and Harris Administration have done…doesnt take a blind person to see all the good things happening.

  13. I understand the importance of testing and it’s roll in ensuring that students have basic skills needed to succeed in today’s world. However not everyone is gifted in math, especially algebra. I studied and studied and still failed algebra. This is despite tutor’s, special education help, remedial math, etc. No matter how hard I worked at it, I failed math from elementary forward. I just didn’t get it, and still don’t. I have my GED, and Asociates Degree where I graduated with honors. If you have the credits to graduate, you should. No test should prevent folks that have met every other requirement from graduation. Not everyone is gifted, and it’s not fair to deny them a future over a test that at the end of the day is meaningless. Obviously I am only referring to individuals that have met every other graduation requirements.

  14. Each individual learns differently (there are three different learning styles – as in Audio, Tactile and Kinetic). Thus testing is not the MOST effective way to gauge a person’s grasp of the material.

    To judge another by way of testing poorly – would eliminate many from advancing through the educational system. Meanwhile – both my husband and I have worked with folks who have graduated from HS (locally) and cannot do basic math, read or spell. Which to me, indicates testing is not the most reliable format.

    For the naysayers and those who choose to insult — here is a bit of basic info. I recommend you read through it. Perhaps (or not) it will educate you a bit on the reasons, standardized testing is not as successful as Scott Cooper and others deem it to be.

    Effects of Standardized Testing on Students
    Some of the challenging potential effects of standardized testing on students are as follows:

    Standardized test scores are often tied to important outcomes, such as graduation and school funding. Such high-stakes testing can place undue stress on students and affect their performance.
    Standardized tests fail to account for students who learn and demonstrate academic proficiency in different ways. For example, a student who struggles to answer a multiple-choice question about grammar or punctuation may be an excellent writer.

    By placing emphasis on reading, writing, and mathematics, standardized tests have devalued instruction in areas such as the arts, history, and electives.

    Standardized tests are thought to be fair because every student takes the same test and evaluations are largely objective, but a one-size-fits-all approach to testing is arguably biased because it fails to account for variables such as language deficiencies, learning disabilities, difficult home lives, or varying knowledge of US cultural conventions.

    Effects of Standardized Testing on Teachers
    Teachers as well as students can be challenged by the effects of standardized testing. Common issues include the following:

    The need to meet specific testing standards pressures teachers to “teach to the test” rather than providing a broad curriculum.

    Teachers have expressed frustration about the time it takes to prepare for and administer tests.
    Teachers may feel excessive pressure from their schools and administrators to improve their standardized test scores.

    Standardized tests measure achievement against goals rather than measuring progress.
    Achievement test scores are commonly assumed to have a strong correlation with teaching effectiveness, a tendency that can place unfair blame on good teachers if scores are low and obscure teaching deficiencies if scores are high.

    Lastly – standardized testing – simply put, is tied to federal funding. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, further tied some types of public school funding to the results of standardized testing.

  15. We are a laughing stock in this country because of these types of policies. Instead of fixing the problem, you erase any measurement of it. Just because you don’t want to measure the affect that your policies have on disadvantaged groups, does not mean it doesn’t exist. The leadership, if you can call it that, in this state is an abomination to all that is at the heart of our country. Hard work, community and cooperation. Fix the problem…dont hide it.

  16. Standardized tests have been part of American education since the mid-1800s, but their use skyrocketed after 2002’s No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) mandated annual testing in all 50 states. Since then US students slipped from being ranked 18th in the world in math in 2000 to 40th in 2015, and from 14th to 25th in science and from 15th to 24th in reading. Failures in the education system have been blamed on rising poverty levels, teacher quality, tenure policies, and, increasingly, on the pervasive use of standardized tests.

    Proponents argue that standardized tests offer an objective measurement of education and a good metric to gauge areas for improvement, as well as offer meaningful data to help students in marginalized groups, and that the scores are good indicators of college and job success. They argue standardized tests are useful metrics for teacher evaluations.

    Opponents argue that standardized tests only determine which students are good at taking tests, offer no meaningful measure of progress, and have not improved student performance, and that the tests are racist, classist, and sexist, with scores that are not predictors of future success. They argue standardized tests are useful metrics for teacher competency evaluations.

    The facts that are true are… 1. Some people are better at taking tests than others. 2. It allows the government to estimate potential economic output of citizens (used to secure loans for the fed gov). 3. Highlights that people learn and retain information differently and that people are to unique to be “standardized.”
    4. That most people (specially neoconservatives) are to dumb to be parents and that all US citizens should be sterilized until they can prove they are financially stable/responsible, aren’t easily duped by a reality tv star or believe in crazy conspiracies or a god in the sky who has a plan.

  17. The thing that cracks me up is this belief that even if a student has passed ALL the classes to get enough credits to graduate with all the correct grades – they need to take a standardized test for you nutjobs to think that they can read and write. Just because students don’t take OAKS or the SAT doesn’t mean that they can’t read or write.

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