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Weigh in on Washington’s new proposed high school graduation requirements

Students will no longer be required to pass state tests to graduate. Instead, a new plan has been proposed to accommodate several paths to earning a diploma.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Editor's note: The above video is from a May 2019 story on modifying Washington high school graduation requirements.

Washington voters now have an opportunity to provide feedback on legislation that would change statewide high school graduation requirements.

In April 2019, the Washington State Legislature authorized the State Board of Education to adopt new graduation requirements that remove the link between passing state assessments and earning a diploma. 

The requirement of passing state testing in order to graduate has been replaced with several graduation pathway proposals. 

Beginning with the class of 2020, students must meet at least one of these options in order to graduate:

  1. Smarter Balanced Assessments: Meet or exceed the graduation scores in the Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA) in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics.
  2. Dual Credit: Earn at least one high school credit in ELA and at least one high school credit in math in dual credit courses (Running Start, College in the High School, and Career and Technical Education dual credit courses). Students do not have to pay fees or claim college credit to meet this pathway, but they must be eligible for college credit at the level of 100 or higher by meeting the program criteria established by the local district and the applicable higher education entity.
  3. Advanced Placement exams: For both ELA and math, earn a 3 or higher on certain Advanced Placement (AP) exams or a 4 or higher on certain International Baccalaureate (IB) exams or an E on certain Cambridge International exams, or pass the course with at least a C+. 
  4. SAT/ACT: Meet or exceed the graduation scores set by SBE in the math and ELA portions of the SAT or ACT.
  5. Transition Course: Pass a transition course in ELA and math (for example, a Bridge to College course, which is a senior course for students who earned a Level 2 on the SBA) which allows a student to place directly into a credit-bearing college-level course. This pathway includes transition courses identified through local agreements between colleges and school districts.
  6. Combination: Meet any combination of at least one ELA and one math option of those options listed above.
  7. Armed Services: Meet standard on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) by scoring at least the minimum established by the military for eligibility to serve in a branch of the armed services.*
  8. CTE Sequence: Complete a sequence of Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses, which involves two or more high school credits of CTE courses in a progression tailored to the student’s goals and relevant to the postsecondary pathway(s) outlined in the student’s High School and Beyond Plan. The sequence may be comprised of courses within the same CTE program area or courses within more than one CTE program area.*

The Armed Services Test and the Career and Technical Education course sequence are new graduation pathways. Students who pursue these pathways do not need to meet English and math requirements separately.

RELATED: Washington high school students no longer required to pass statewide test

Students will still be able to take the statewide test to graduate. School districts will have discretion over which pathways they offer to students and will not be required to offer all of them. 

School districts are also allowed to waive up to two credits an individual student needs to graduate, but only in special circumstances. The credits may not be waived if they are core credits as mandated by the state Board of Education.

The Washington State Board of Education will be answering questions and accepting feedback until Oct. 28. 

You can email them at rulescoordinatorSBE@k12.wa.us to voice your concerns or support. 

The department is also hearing in-person, oral feedback during a public hearing SBE in Olympia (600 Washington Street SE) on Oct. 24 beginning at 10 a.m. 

If passed, the state board of education said the measure would be adopted on Nov. 7, 2019. The class of 2020 will be the first class impacted. 

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