When the State Board of Education recently increased the high school math credit requirements for graduation to three credits the wrote the rules in such a way that students who took a high-school-level math class without credit as an eighth-grader were required to repeat that same course for credit in high school. In Seattle, that would mean that students who took Integrated 1 or those who will take Algebra 1 in eighth grade would have to take the course again in high school to fulfill the graduation requirements.
Of course, that wouldn't be necessary if the students were awarded high school credit for the class, but, in defiance of state law, Seattle Public Schools does not allow that.
Fortunately, on Friday, the state board gave students more flexibility in their choices for high-school math so it will not be necessary for students to repeat classes. Now students can choose to start with a different math class in high school and don't have to repeat the eighth-grade class if they don't want to.
It bears repeating the facts of this situation as they present themselves here in Seattle.
1. For about four years now State law has required school districts to award credit for high school level classes taken in middle school if the student or the student's family petitions for the credit.
2. Seattle Public Schools, in contradiction to the state law, refuses to grant credit for the classes. They claim that they don't know what is taught in the classes and they don't know if the teacher is certified to teach high school level classes. Of course, they will neither make a determination of either point nor will they accept evidence of either point.
3. The Board, at the September 23, 2008 meeting of the curriculum and instruction committee, wanted to amend District policies to comply with the state law and allow students to earn high school credit in middle school. The District staff, specifically Michael Tolley, asked the Board to delay the policy revision saying that he had been working on integrated grading policy reform for two years and he would be ready to introduce it in January for a vote in February.
4. The Board accepted the delay despite the fact that this element is not connected to any other part of grading policy and is not integrated into it in any way. The thinking was that the change would be effective for classes beginning 2009, so waiting a few months from September to February would not change anything. The policy change would still be in place for the start of school in 2009.
5. The integrated grading policy reform was not ready in January or February. Mr. Tolley promised it in March for a vote in April.
6. The integrated grading policy reform was not ready in March or April. Mr. Tolley promised it in May for a vote in June.
7. Mr. Tolley finally admitted to the Board that the integrated grading policy reform will not, in fact, be ready in time for the start of school in 2009.
8. The Board has not taken any further action on the question of high school credit for classes taken in middle school. The policy change will not be in place for the start of school in 2009. A whole year has passed and the Board was not able to strike a single sentence from Policy D46.01 that would bring the District into compliance with state law.