Not passing a statewide test won't spell doom for the graduation hopes of Washington high school students next year, thanks to a bill signed by Gov. Jay Inslee.
The new law takes away the direct link between passing state assessments and graduation. State Superintendent Chris Reykdal says those state assessments shouldn't be used to measure individual performance, but are intended to assess how the K-12 system is doing as a whole.
"And they certainly were not intended to serve as a barrier to high school graduation," Reykdal says in a statement.
The bill adds multiple "pathways" to graduation for the graduating class of 2020. Students will still have to earn the same amount of credits to graduate, unless they're granted a waiver. But if they don't meet the standard on statewide English language arts or mathematics tests, they will have several other pathways to graduate. Those include an option to complete career and technical education (CTE) courses, or meeting the standard in the armed services vocational aptitude battery.
"The inclusion of the CTE pathway is vital to our state's economy and it will make a significant difference in the lives of our students," Reykdal says.
Other substitutes for passing the statewide tests include meeting a certain score on the SAT or ACT and completing college credit in dual credit programs like ELA or math.
"The state board will be writing rules about these to implement them," says Alissa Muller, spokeswoman for the Washington State Board of Education.