My daughter, along with a number of other students, took an Integrated I math class at Washington Middle School this past year. Integrated I is a high school level math course. Washington offers Integrated I, Integrated II and Integrated III. So does Eckstein. Hamilton and a number of other schools offer Integrated I, as it is the math class that Spectrum students typically take in the 8th grade.
According to State Law, RCW 28A.230.090,
" (4) If requested by the student and his or her family, a student who has completed high school courses before attending high school shall be given high school credit which shall be applied to fulfilling high school graduation requirements if:
(b) The academic level of the course exceeds the requirements for seventh and eighth grade classes and the course would qualify for high school credit, because the course is similar or equivalent to a course offered at a high school in the district as determined by the school district board of directors."
There is no doubt that Integrated I exceeds the requirements for seventh and eighth grade classes and that it would qualify for high school credit because it is the same course that is offered at our high schools for credit. It must be similar or equivalent because the Integrated I class taken at Washington uses the same textbook, covers the same material and is accepted as the pre-requisite for the Integrated II course, just like the Integrated I course given at our high schools.
So I wrote to the Student Learning Committee, with copies to Phil Brockman, Ruth Medsker, and Carla Santorno, requesting high school credit for my daughter. In my email, I referenced the state law and quoted it.
Phil Brockman wrote back to me today and quoted Board Policy D46.01 which says:
"No high school credit will be granted until a student is enrolled in a high school as a ninth grade student. (WAC 180.51.030, RCW 28A.05.060)."
I immediately wrote back to him with the news that RCW 28A.05.060 has been repealed and that the new state law is the one I quoted in my original email message.
I also pointed out to him that the WAC referenced in the Policy, WAC 180-51-030, says:
"As used in this chapter the term "high school credit" shall mean:
(1) Grades nine through twelve or the equivalent of a four-year high school program, and grades seven and eight under the provisions of RCW 28A.230.090 (4) and (5):"
In short, I wrote, the District Policy relies on a repealed law and is therefore obsolete and void. This was something I learned in the course of the discussion around Policy D12.00 this year. If a Board Policy is contradicted by a later Policy or a law, the new Policy or law supercedes the older one and renders it void.
While the law does allow the Board to determine by written policy what is and is not eligible for high school credit (WAC 180-51-050 (6)), that written policy must conform to the state law. The law very clearly says that credit SHALL be awarded in cases such as my daughter's, that the law was written for exactly this sort of situation, and that the District does not have discretion in this case. They must award the credit.
If I prevail on this point - and I am extremely confident that I will - then my daughter will get high school credit for this year's math class and, if I request it, next year's math class as well. With two years of high school math completed, she will have satisfied the math portion of her graduation requirements before her first day at Garfield. That will allow her to be more flexible in her scheduling.
More than that, it is what is fair. We often hear district leaders say that students should get credit based on what they learn, not how long they sit in a class. How much more arbitrary is it for the students to either get credit or not based on the building where they sat?
Some families with students taking high school math classes in middle school might not want to follow this path because schools have been known to deny access to advanced math classes for juniors and seniors on the basis that the class is an elective for the students because they have already completed the two years of math required to graduate. This should not be a concern. If your child intentionally fails the math portion of the WASL they are required to take four years of math to graduate. Therefore the advanced math class is no longer an elective but a graduation requirement. The student can always pass the Math portion of the test at any time to get rid of the requirement when it is no longer convenient.