Saturday, March 15, 2014

Washington State Passes 24 Credit Graduation Requirement

I'll let Representative Gerry Pollet - who worked his ass off to make sure this law was fair to Sped students - tell you about it (written on March 12th):

Earlier today we did something terrific for our children and schools. We were faced with a punitive Senate bill to require every student to finish 24 credits to graduate from high school even if they were sick or homeless for some period of time, or had special education needs that were not met, and couldn't complete courses. 

We would drive up the dropout rate when students who are behind discover there is no way to make up and graduate with their classmates.

As I pointed out repeatedly, the state and districts (like Seattle) don't even provide for free make-up, summer and remedial courses. This would have kicked in with students becoming freshmen a year from now - before we added guidance counselors, lowered class sizes, or provided students with options for career and technical education courses. 


The battle lines were firmly drawn on this bill for weeks. 

A small group of my colleagues and I started Tuesday and worked through the night - touching base with every set of stakeholders from PTSA, our teachers, school directors, advocacy and business groups - finding a way to give every student the OPPORTUNITY to graduate from high school with 24 credits, requiring districts to take into account if students have unique hardships, and creating a commitment to provide those remedial and make-up courses. Students will be able to choose a career and technical path based equivalent alternative for their third year of math or science. 

We also adopted into the bill an amendment of mine to review how to remove barriers to access for our students with disabilities (including dyslexia for the first time). 

The bill passed the House 93 to 5! We went from a NO and fight with the Senate to a bill that everyone says is a great step forward for our children. Now, it will be a fair opportunity for our children with resources to help them graduate with a meaningful 24 credits.

Qur group of House Democrats fought against rigid implementation for the class of 2019. We provided that districts can extend the date if they don't have the resources to provide students with a meaningful opportunity.

Thanks to Representative Pollet for watching out for ALL our kids.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Eric M said...

I guess this is supposed to be paid for by parents. The state does not even fund the 6 scheduled classes at any SPS high school (5 only). I have no budget whatsoever to teach 5 college prep science classes. We've had furlough days the last two years. We cut budget AGAIN this year, and a major point of contention was that we maybe shouldn't allow (couldn't afford) to let (science-major-bound) students take more than one science class per year.

I am completely baffled by this. It just seems like wishful thinking, in this wreck-public-education environment. Crazy, really.

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Charlie Mas said...

Graduation requirements are set by the state but school districts and individual schools can set higher requirements.

The state currently requires 20 credits. See this web page for additional details.

Some school districts, however, have higher graduation requirements. Bellevue, for example, requires 23.5 credits.

Here in Seattle, the district requires 20 credits, but some schools require more. Hale, for example, requires 23.5 credits. How's that for equity and an aligned curriculum for ya?

Beyond the credits, students are required to do a project, prepare a plan, and, in some cases, perform community service. Each district and school interprets these requirements differently.

Charlie Mas said...

The state pays for four years of five credits a year - 20 credits total. Now the state requires students to earn 24 credits.

The state does not fund any credit recovery. So even if the state stepped up and fully funded six classes a day it would still mean that students who fail a class - even a single class - would have to find some way to make up the failed class - some way that isn't funded by the state.

Charlie Mas said...

The 24 credit graduation requirement was supposed to come with a lot of other reforms including expanded opportunities for credit recovery, to earn credit in middle school, to earn credit by testing out of classes, and to earn credit in other ways outside of class. Where are those reforms?

Anonymous said...

I think requiring a plan for post-high school is great. I also like the community service requirement. I have a nephew in another state who has no plan, none, for after he graduates in June. He's a bright kid but a lousy student with parents who are both learning disabled and work menial jobs. They want to help but have no idea how. If his district required kids to sit down and work on a plan during their senior year, he'd at least have some direction. Community service might also have helped him find a possible career. I am doing what I can from a distance, but I worry that this kid will just follow his dad to the factory or end up fixing cars in his garage or something. It's sad.

Like plans

Anonymous said...

Another unfunded mandate from a state legislature that won't fund even the basics?

Impressed with Pollet and Co.? Hardly. In fact, this public education supporter is furious. The special education and community service and planning provisions are frosting on a cake of dog excrement.

What are we going to do in Seattle? Hold another PTA bake sale? Stupid.

46th Unbeliever

Melissa Westbrook said...

I wrote to Pollet and said I did support this BUT where are the resources? As well, there are the issue that Charlie brings up.

But Pollet fought to make this equitable and that's something.

As for the "senior plan"? Really, it's mostly a joke (as is the senior project). I think what would be better is to give the kids the resources to graduate their classes with good grades, some solid career/college counseling and some community service.

Anonymous said...

IEP teams have had the authority to waive certain high school graduation requirements for a student with disabilities if the student is unable to meet the requirement and there is a direct relationship between the inability to meet the requirement and the student's disability.

WAC 180-51-115 states "Special accommodations for individual students, or in lieu thereof, exemption from any requirement in this chapter, if such requirement impedes the student's progress toward graduation and there is a direct relationship between the failure to meet the requirement and the student's limitation."

This WAC only applies to credits, plans, and projects. It does not apply to assessment requirements.

--- swk

Linh-Co said...

Melissa, you wrote in previous post about possibly getting rid of the senior project. What came out of that discussion? Was it brought up at a C&I meeting?

My senior thinks the senior project is worthless and busy work. She is doing something half-assed to fulfill the requirement and she is an honor student who will be going to college.

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Anonymous said...

Linh-Co, SPS does not have the authority to get rid of the senior project. It is a state graduation requirement. The State Board of Education would have to change this (or the legislature would have to direct the SBE to do so).

--- swke

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Lynn said...



The bill says: effective with the graduating class of 2015, the state board of education may not establish a requirement for students to complete a culminating project for graduation.

Here's a link to the bill. I found that language on page 8.

Anonymous said...

Just read Goldy's post at horseass.org re the impending McCleary disaster. Sigh, what a mess!

CCA

Anonymous said...

How in the world will SPS accomplish this? Is this a fantasy? Schools are losing counseling resources, librarians, office staff. What provisions does the state make for districts that cannot pay for this?

-FedMomof2

Patrick said...

FedMomof2, yes, and there are many districts that have even less of their own funding than Seattle. The legislature is in cloud cuckoo land.

Anonymous said...

Wait, I am still horrified by the suggestion that high school kids can only take one science class per year, for budgetary reasons. Did this go through? Is this true at all the high schools? That is a horror if so, and I'd want to agitate right now if that could help.

-sleeper

Charlie Mas said...

The disconnection between education policy makers and schools is never wider than it is on this issue.

Anonymous said...

In all seriousness, why don't we eliminate minimum high school graduation requirements entirely? Simply require students to earn an average 5 credits per year, any credits of their choosing.

Colleges and universities would still have minimum entrance requirements and those students who aspire to attend a 4-year college or university would need to meet or exceed those, but students wouldn't be required to meet those for high school graduation.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

Why any school requires more than what is state mandated for a high school diploma is beyond me. It would be nice if public schools in WA State were all on the same page when it comes to something as basic as awarding a high school diploma.