Friday, November 18, 2011

Education Reform: New graduation requirements on the horizon for the class of 2016

For the last several years, education reform has been, and will continue to be, an important issue in Washington state. Over half of all students who enroll in community or technical colleges directly after high school need to take at least one remedial course to catch up. We need to do a better job making our students college and career-ready by the time they graduate from high school.

House Democrats have championed reforms aimed at improving our K-12 education system. During the 2011 legislative session, Rep. Marcie Maxwell (D-Renton) sponsored House Bill 1443 that proposed a number of reforms. Although the bill failed to receive Legislative approval, the Washington State Board of Education adopted some of the bill’s components through changes to the Washington Administrative Code.

Repealing the time-based definition of credit is one of the changes adopted by the board. Currently, most high school students received a full course credit by spending 150 hours in the classroom. By removing the time-based definition of credit, local school districts will now have more flexibility in measuring student achievement.

The board approved this change last week. The board also approved new high school graduation requirements that will take effect for the class of 2016 and beyond. The new requirements will:
  • Increase English from 3 to 4 credits.
  • Increase social studies from 2.5 to 3 credits and require .5 credit of civics.
  • Decrease electives from 5.5 to 4 credits.
  • Make successful completion of Washington State History and Government a non-credit requirement.
  • Clarify that the 2 credits of health and fitness includes .5 credits of health and 1.5 credits of fitness.
  • Create a “two for one” policy that would enable students taking a CTE-equivalent (career and technical education) course to satisfy two graduation requirements while earning one credit.
The revised language on the new graduation requirements can be found on the Board of Education site here. One-page flyers and summaries can be found here and here.

To read this blog post in Spanish, please click here.