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Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations: Oregon Joins List of States Dumbing Down Education

Posted on Friday, October 27, 2023
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by Outside Contributor
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21 Comments
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The Oregon Board of Education on Thursday voted unanimously to remove requirements for students to be proficient in reading and writing in order to graduate—joining the long line of ill-advised moves to cut academic expectations for American students.

The Oregon Department of Education released a statement calling the reading and writing proficiency standards “burdensome to teachers and students.” Dan Farley, Oregon’s assistant superintendent of research, assessment, and data with the Education Department, said the standards simply “did not work.”

There’s no evidence that suspending those standards is going to improve the academic performance of any student—quite the contrary. Had the Oregon Board of Education done 15 minutes of research, it would have found that relaxing academic performance standards has had drastic adverse consequences.

Ohio tried the same strategy in 2020—and the results are already looking grim. Then-state Superintendent Paolo DeMaria reformed graduation requirements, abandoning “competency” in math and English. Since that decision, Ohio’s math proficiency has dropped.

 

An Ohio State University report on Ohio’s proficiencies in math and English describe middle- and high-school grades’ math performance decline as “substantial.” Since 2020, math performance in grades 3 through 10 has fallen between 1% and 4%—and shows no signs of improving.

Why would it? If math proficiency is no longer a requirement for graduation, why would schools devote the time to making sure students are proficient in it?

Baltimore City Public Schools, which had relaxed its math standards several times since the early 2010s, currently has 13 high schools in which zero students tested proficient in math in the 2023 Maryland state assessments.

Public school districts in California, Michigan, New York, and South Carolina have tried similar approaches—lowering academic standards and expectations in the name of “racial equity.” The results are as you might expect: No district that has sought to cut academic standards has seen an improvement in academic performance. 

Why would Oregon be any different? 

Oregon’s Board of Education has not provided an alternative to the literacy graduation standards; therefore, we can and should expect the same results, ranging from mediocrity to abject failure, that other states and districts have suffered due to the embarrassingly poor decisions made by individuals who won’t suffer the consequences of illiteracy.

American education is rapidly becoming a toxic system of promoting the “good enough” benchmark to bolster self-esteem by pretending students’ failure is either nonexistent or not their responsibility.

As Daniel Buck, a former educator and fellow at the Fordham Institute, points out, grade point averages in the United States have risen considerably since 2010—while ACT testing scores have remained constant. Students’ performance, as measured by standardized testing, isn’t increasing—but their grades are still improving. How?

Standards are in sharp decline, and performance will follow.

Thankfully, some states are bucking this trend. Tennessee has begun requiring third grade students who don’t meet performance requirements on the annual state math test to take summer classes in an effort to close gaps.

Florida—which not only kept students in classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic, but has also increased expectations for students in both math and English—has seen dividends in student performance. Florida’s reading and math average scores for grades 4, 8, and 12 have climbed year-over-year since 2020.

The lack of academic expectations has driven many parents to seek alternative education options for their children in the past decade—with STEM and classical education seeing the largest increases.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics charter and private schools have become a common sight in cities across the country—promising a rigorous environment for students to stretch their academic muscles and prepare for challenging careers by carrying a hefty workload with intensive assessments. 

It’s unsurprising that STEM charters consistently outperform local public schools in both reading and math.

Classical education, which throws pre-K through 12th grade students into classic works of literature, history, sciences, philosophy, and theology, has also become quite popular—with organizations such as Classical Learning Test creating an alternative to the SAT and ACT, which many universities are beginning to prefer

As for Oregon’s decision to abandon reading proficiency, the jury isn’t out; to the contrary, it’s quite in. Other states and schools have consistently proven that leaving standards and expectations behind for any reason will result in diminished returns in performance—and students will end up paying the price for the rest of their lives.

Regrettably, Oregon isn’t the first state, and it likely won’t be the last. Every department, board, administrator, and policymaker that withholds expectations from students is depriving them of the possibility of growth and achievement.

Tony Kinnett is an investigative columnist for The Daily Signal.

Reprinted with Permission from The Daily Signal – By Tony Kinnett

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PaulE
PaulE
5 months ago

The dumber the population, the easier it is for the Democrats to control the population. There is a method to this madness and that is ensuring the Democrats expand and retain their unilateral power in perpetuity.

A nation of ignorant sheep, who will simply vote straight-line Democrat no matter what, is exactly what the Democrat Party wants and needs to achieve their goals. For those out there that haven’t figured this out until recently, shame on you for not paying attention or giving a da*n for the last 50 or 60 years as the mass indoctrination of America’s youth advanced unchecked in plain view of everyone. Ignorance or apathy does have a real-world cost and it is now all around us as we move into the final chapter of our republic’s history. The younger generations that will be running virtually everything in less than a decade will merely be useful puppets of those pulling their strings.

Donna
Donna
5 months ago

These institutions of indoctrination should not receive any taxpayer funding, local, state or federal. Education is obviously not their goal. The dumbing down of our nation’s youth is criminal. These institutions are nothing more than expensive daycare centers.

liz
liz
5 months ago

The dumbing down of education in the USA began in 1965

Charlotte Mahin
Charlotte Mahin
5 months ago

Our public education system has been indoctrinating our kids for over 30 years. These Marxist Democrats do not care if our kids learn anything except for their Marxist ideas. Anyone who allows their kids to stay in a public school needs to be paying a lot of attention to what is being taught there and be aware of left wing indoctrination. This bunch of Marxists in DC are undermining the family values and trying to steal away our kids.

Rebecca
Rebecca
5 months ago

Isn’t it a shame that people want to learn to read, write and do math. And do it to the very best of their ability. Who knows once they’ve mastered these areas next they’ll want to think, speak and care for themselves. Then what will Big Brother do about them. The west coast needs to wake up and the population need to push these folks out of any office they occupy. Power and money is their game. Nothing else will satisfy them.

Mimi
Mimi
5 months ago

Don’t forget the teachers union. They are working with the democrats to dumb down the population, and getting paid handsomely to do so. Get rid of the teachers unions, and you’ll see a difference right away!!

Denise
Denise
5 months ago

Ignorant sheep are easier to herd…and slaughter.

anna hubert
anna hubert
5 months ago

What education? A babysitting service Accidentally they may learn something Not much

Theresa Coughlin
Theresa Coughlin
5 months ago

this is why we need school choice.

Red Valley
Red Valley
5 months ago

Gosh, why not save a whole lot of money and fire all of the teachers and convert the schools to daycare centers staffed with minimum wage pedophiles? Then, automatically issue diplomas to any of the kids who survive to age 18. End result should be about the same.

John Beach
John Beach
5 months ago

When the people decide that the sustenance of stupidity is unsustainable, they will remove the idiots in government who think that policies which do nothing but keep them in office represent the people who, they believe, are too stupid to present or choose an alternative. They are burdensome and they need to be removed.

Smike
Smike
5 months ago

And that is why I sent all four of my kids to private schools where enrollment is competitive, “standard” won’t get you in. They demand more from us and we demand more from them. It’s the way this should work.

barb
barb
5 months ago

setting these kids to fail in real life. insulting to think some of these kids can’t learn

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
5 months ago

Soon America will actually become like the film “Idiocracy”. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. It’s funny and prophetic all at the same time!

GTPatriot
GTPatriot
5 months ago

We need to start asking moderately selective colleges how their pool of applicants compare academically with the applicants 5 years earlier. Don’t ask the super-selective colleges as their degrees will in demand forever. We also need to know how the number of selective ( not super-selective) college applicants compare to 5 years earlier. We all now know that the value of a college degree is less than it was 20 years ago and that there are now so many colleges that those who barely graduate from high school can get in. Most colleges are concerned about your money. Your skills upon graduation is secondary.

JYC
JYC
5 months ago

I agree with PaulE. I went to school to learn reading, writing and math in the 70’s and it helped get me into Junior College. I went back to school as a 45 year-old and it was tough. Again, the Junior College had Adult Basic Education to help with math, reading, computers, etc. Then, I began working. If the “organized” OEA thinks that lowering the standards gets “equity,” you are wrong! They get these “open-minded, dummies” that do whatever the State says to do. Wow! I can actually think for myself?! This critical thinking skill is vital to all students that find the government lacking in all aspects of social engagement and in the county and city-wide races for leaders. This is shocking and degrading to those of us who have kids in middle school and high school. What will they become?

GTPatriot
GTPatriot
5 months ago

Today, your computer skills is more important that what you know about math, chemistry, or physics. Laws of thermodynamics ? Who cares Can you write programs ? Thats what gets you paid.

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