Educational Mandates Redefine Credit, Equivalency and Graduation
As teachers and students settle into the routine of the school year, state legislation has altered what it means to earn credit for a class.
Starting this year, three major changes are coming to Washington state school districts. Graduation requirements, equivalency testing and credit waiver rules were all altered during the legislature's last session.
House bill 1599, signed into law back in April, removed the requirement that students pass English, math and science tests to graduate. Instead, up to ten 'pathways' will be provided to students in order for them to graduate.
According to the Washington Education Association, they are:
- Meet or exceed the graduation standard established by the SBE on the statewide high school assessments in ELA and mathematics
- Complete and qualify for college credit in dual credit courses in ELA and mathematics
- Earn high school credit in a high school transition course that meets specific requirements in ELA and mathematics
- Earn high school credit, with a C+ grade or equivalent, in specified Advanced Placement, International Bacculaureate, or Cambridge international courses in ELA and mathematics
- Meet or exceed the scores established by the SBE for the mathematics portion and the reading, English, or writing portion of the SAT or ACT
- Meet any combination of at least one ELA option and at least one mathematics option established in the previous bullets
- Meet standards in the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
- Complete a sequence of career and technical education courses, including those leading to workforce entry, state or nationally approved apprenticeships, or postsecondary education, that meet specific criteria.
- Pass AP exams with a score of 3 or higher as a graduation pathway option to demonstrate career and college readiness
- Pass International baccalaureate exams with a score of 4 or higher as a graduation pathway option to demonstrate career and college readiness
Eastmont School District Assistant Superintendent and Special Education Director David Woods said that in response the district has designed a Graduation and Beyond plan starting in 8th grade.
"So instead of being locked in to certain things, (students) can say that they're going to graduate from college and they go on a certain pathway for that. Or they can say, 'Well I don't know if I want to go to college but I might want to be an intern or get a different training.' It's a little different pathway." explained Woods, "They choose that pretty early on and of course they can change it as they go along."
Meanwhile equivalency tests for class credit, which in previous years were simply encouraged, are now required for classes like computer science.
"(A student) would say, 'I already know that, so can I take this competency test?' If they pass that competency test they can gain a credit for that (class)." Woods added, "It's very limited on what classes they can do that for. They can't do that for every class."
In another change, principals in Washington state can now grant a waiver for up to two high school credits if the student provides an adequate reason for the request of the waiver.