High-Stakes Testing and Graduation Requirements in Washington State

David Spring has written a lengthy explanation of what may or may not be coming with state testing.   It's called Comparing Three Graduation Requirement Options for Washington State.

It is a lot of heavy reading (and it would require you to go read all these bills which I have not done yet) but I think it worthy.  

In this article, we will compare three sets of high school graduation requirements currently being considered by the Washington state legislature. These three options are the current law which was enacted in 2013, House Bill 2214 and Senate Bill 6122. All of these three options are complex. We will therefore provide a comparison table at the end of this article to better help citizens understand the provisions and consequences of each option.

Understanding the current Washington state law is important because if no bill is passed in the state legislature in 2015 to replace it, then the current Washington state law will continue to be in effect.

Option 1: Current Washington State Law imposes an SBAC test monopoly by 2019

Option 2: House Bill 2214 Accelerates the SBAC Test Monopoly to 2016

Option 3: Senate Bill 6122 continues standardized tests required by federal law but eliminates High Stakes Tests as a Graduation Requirement

On May 15, 2015, Senators McAuliffe, Parlette, Fraser, Chase, Hasegawa, Keiser, McCoy, Frockt, Kohl-Welles, Cleveland and Jayapal introduced Senate Bill 6122. This option continues to use standardized tests but eliminates passing the SBAC test as a graduation requirement.    

6122 table 


Anonymous said…
I skimmed the last one for a few pages, it takes the annual hour count back to 1,000 from the newly-implemented 1080. Curious if that was oversight from an older pre-1080 version or not. I wouldn't mind losing the extra 80 hours of instructional time without extra pay. Overall it looks like a good idea, hope it gains some traction.

Glad I Left Seattle
Anonymous said…
The 3rd grade "failure" report is a joke. The SBAC ELA for 3rd is NOT at grade level and is too complex for little kids. Questions are poorly worded, tasks are unclear and hidden within blocks of text, vocabulary is not grade level appropriate. The test is failing the kids, not the other way around. Plus the state doesn't include any extra money for all those third grade teachers to meet with all those parents whose kids "failed" the ELA portion of a test that's not even at grade level.
Ludicrous. Option 3 looks the best to me.

No 3rd grade "failures"
Anonymous said…
If I understand Option 2 correctly, this would essentially be punishment for the juniors that opted out of testing this year by now requiring the SBAC test for graduation in 2016? If this is correct, this will surely piss off almost every single parent of a junior in the entire state. It is too late to be changing the requirements for graduation next year. I would seriously consider moving my kid to a private high school for senior year if this is comes to pass.

Anonymous said…
HB 2214 bill eliminates all EOCs and the HSPE and replaces them with the Math and ELA SBAC (SBAC science to follow) tests in 11th grade.

Meaning that once fully implemented 11th graders will be taking three SBAC tests, SAT/ACTs, IB/AP exams spring of 11th grade.

Also HB 2214 eliminates all alternative assessment options and requires schools to instead offer transition courses to 12th graders that did not pass any of the SBACs in 11th grade.

If this bill is passed it goes into effect this fall, which I believe could change grad requirements for current 9th, 10th and 11th graders, as well as MS students who are taking EOCs right now.(EOCs may no longer count for graduation.) This part of the bill is not clear to me.

10th grade parent
Anonymous said…
Another thing about HB 2214:

In some ways it seems like it's really about trying to up the graduation requirements. Kids who manage to pass the exams are the ones who are probably planning for challenging senior years already, including an optional 4th year or math and 3rd (or 4th) year of science since universities want to see that. Many of the kids who don't pass the exams are probably in that same boat, and will take those additional courses.

The kids who maybe weren't planning to take math and/or science, as seniors, however, seem like the ones to be most hit by SB 2214. They're probably the ones least likely to pass the required tests, so now they'd be forced to take an additional year in each of the subjects for which they didn't meet standard on the test. And while HB 2214 requires that students have "high school and beyond" plans that may include career and technical education equivalencies in English language arts or mathematics, it also specifies in Sec 3 that "high school transition course" means an English language arts, mathematics, or science course offered in high school whose successful completion by a high school student will ensure the student college-level placement at participating institutions of higher education as defined in RCW 28B.10.016. So essentially, it seems like this means they need to no longer need remediation in order to graduate? That whether or not you intend to go to college, you need to be at least college-ready and NOT need remediation--even though under the current requirements many of those who DO pursue college are in need of remediation when they get there? I understand the desire to raise the standard, but that seems a bit extreme.

(Note: For ELA the "transition class" doesn't seem like big of a deal, since 4 yrs of ELA are already required already. It seems like no matter how you do on the exam, you just need to pass that ELA class as a senior--which I assume you already need to do to get the 4 credits.)

Anonymous said…
@ HP, if HB 2214 (Option 2) went into affect, many of those juniors who opted out this year probably wouldn't see any impact. The requirement would be that that take another year of math, more challenging than the last math class they passed. Most of those college bound kids were likely to do that anyway.

I'm not sure who all would feel the impact, but it seems like it might be one group: the kids who had passed a math EOC and thought they were done taking math, so opted out of the SBA math? It seems like they'd need to take another math class they didn't want. Is there anyone else?

Anonymous said…
Should be "effect" not "affect." Ugh.

Anonymous said…
I didn't think any middle schoolers were taking the math EOCs this year. I thought the state was not allowing schools to administer the test to middle schoolers since the math EOC won't count for graduation for any current middle schoolers (even if they passed an EOC last year).

Anonymous said…
Option 3 (SB 6122) basically gets rid of any testing requirements not specifically required by the feds. Graduation would be dependent upon completing the required credits.

Part of me has trouble with this, as it seems a HS diploma should represent some basic level of competency in the core subjects and not just indication that you put in the required time in HS. (After all, a "D" is passing--and that can pretty much just mean you showed up). But then again, a HS diploma doesn't seem to count for much these days, so perhaps this is just acknowledgement that the current bar is pretty low already, and what difference does it really make if we lower it further?

It also seems like this is a way to get around the CCSS. Yes, the standards will still be there, but there won't be high stakes testing based on them. That means teachers can disregard the standards and teach whatever they want in their classes (for better or worse).

Overall, it seems that parents, students and teachers might like SB 6122. I wonder, however, what impact it would have on the overall quality of education and the preparation of students. Would there be any incentives to increase the rigor in our classrooms? It's shameful that so many graduates need remediation now, and SB 6122 seems to do nothing to raise the bar. For kids who do well, that's not a big issue. But for those not well-served under our current system it seems like we'd just be giving the system a pass...

Anonymous said…
The problem is that HB 2214 and SB 6122 are extremes, one puts the onus of meeting all grad requirements at 11th grade the other removes all accountability.

What I liked about the EOCs is that they showed subject matter competency and allowed students the opportunity to meet grad requirements starting in middle school. By the time they reached 11th grade most students have met all the requirements. Students who had not met a requirement had two years to do so.

I also think removing the alternative assessments does a great disservice to many students who simply do not test well.

10th grade parent
Anonymous said…
Thank you for posting this, Melissa. In CA, some districts filed a lawsuit claiming the testing was an unfunded mandate. The resources required to administer the tests were too burdensome for some districts (as opposed to the old paper an pencil tests). I am not against state testing in general, but the SBAC seems to be a money eating, time eating monstrosity.

Links to SB 6122 and HB 2214

Sponsors of HB 2214 include Santos and Pettigrew (weren't they supporting the split of the district??). Will we see state SBAC results before these bills move forward? Perhaps state performance will change the mind of some representatives.

Anonymous said…
Unfortunately, I am not sure that ANY passing rate will affect the thinking of either Pettigrew or Tomiko Santos. They both appear to have sold their souls wholly to Ed Reform.

I doubt that their many constituents in South East Seattle will share their "all ed reform, all the time" point of view, though.

Frankly, I cannot see why either of them support testing at all. Testing is supposed to be all about gathering "evidence" to use in decision making. When trying to weaken democratically elected boards by inserting mayoral control, and in seeking to split the district -- there was no evidence of efficacy, and they as much as admitted it. The prevailing sentiment was -- well, why not just experiment with something different and see if we like it better!

The next state legislative elections cannot come soon enough for me!

Anonymous said…
Well, of the options presented, SB 6612 is clearly the best. Someone who has completed & passed all required high school classes should get a diploma - otherwise one is basically saying that one single test trumps four years worth of work. By that logic, they should let kids who have passed the SBAC just skip the rest of high school. Also, if kids fail the SBAC in their junior year, why is the requirement to take another year of that subject at a higher level? Wouldn't' the failure indicate that they haven't mastered the lower level material yet, and aren't ready for a more advanced class? It would make more sense to take the level of class that is appropriate for that student, and then retake the test a couple of times during the senior year.
From what I recall, when I went to high school (in New York, in the 80s) there were subject- specific state tests that were required for graduation, but they were generally taken starting in 10th or 11th grade, so if you failed, you could repeat the class if needed (the regents exams were often used a final exams as well, so if you failed the test you probably weren't doing too well in the class either), and you could take them multiple times. My mathematically-challenged friend took the 10th grade math test 3 times before she finally passed it (they are offered twice a year in most subjects).

I don't think basing graduation classes passd equates to not having any tests, because presumably one was tested on the material in those classes while taking them. Also, as far as getting D's, there is also a minimum GPA required for graduation (2.0 both for cumulative & separately for core courses), so while it is possible to get 4 years of Ds in any one core subjects, you'd have to have a all Bs in another core subject to offset that. D is passing, and while it isn't very good, I don't think one should be denied a diploma either because one has trouble with one subject.

Of topic, but interesting: most the past Regents exams are posted on line (http://www.nysedregents.org/) , and there is a note saying that tests back to 1930 are available on request. Kind of makes you wonder why the SBAC folks have to be so secretive.

Mom of 4
Anonymous said…
Sorry for the typos in the last post!

I did not go to school in this state, and I haven't paid much attention to past high school testing, since it won't apply once my kids are that age, but it sounds like the former EOC requirement is similar to what I was describing with the Regents exams.

Mom of 4
Mom of 4, thanks for that great input.
TheGoodFight said…
The article has a lot of doom and gloom, yikes. It seems to be missing supporting DATA. The author throws out failure percentages, but has no real data.

There's also a contradiction comparing drop out rates before SBAC and after SBAC. He makes a huge leap over cause and effect analysis.

He makes the unsupported claim that SBAC will cause more students to drop out...based on what?

We still have students graduating who can't read or write above a 5th grade level. Maybe the SBAC will force the system to rise to the occasion and actually provide the supports at-risk students need to graduate.

Just maybe poor SBAC scores can be used to prove smaller class sizes are required in public schools?

In the end, I'm suspicious of the motivations behind the SBAC negativity campaign.
Anonymous said…
Agreed, TheGoodFight. That "Coalition to Protect our Public Schools" article is clearly biased.

For example, it says:
Put in plain English, about 67% of the 80,000 students who take the SBAC math test, or 54,000 students, will fail the SBAC math exam and be forced to take a 4th Year of Advanced Math. Of these 54,000 students, over half will fail the advanced math course during their senior year – preventing 27,000 students from graduating.

First of all, where does that 50%+ failure rate come from? And second, they don't necessarily have to take an "advanced math" class. It sounds like schools could develop "locally determined high school transition courses," and I'm sure there are ways to design them to meet the criteria without being harder. The bill says: "A course shall be deemed rigorous if it is at a higher course level than the student's most recent coursework in a content area in which the student received a passing grade of "C" or higher, or its equivalent." Students who passed the original math class with a D could retake it. Students who had a C could take the next level, or possibly a new transition course that isn't that much harder (or maybe even is just the equivalent?). The idea that everyone is going to have to end up taking precalculus or something seems far-fetched.

I'm not saying I'm for this bill, I just hate to see all the exaggeration.

Anonymous said…
6612 puts everything on individual districts. Districts are free to link graduation to SBAC scores or the districts can require just sitting the test for graduation. Or a district can not use the test and let kids opt-out.

It's a very novel approach, it seems. Is there any legislation like that in any other state?

GoodFight/HP, I noticed that as well. There's a statement in there that "parents and teachers" want to get rid of high stakes testing (which he doesn't define).

I'm not against state testing.

I'm against overly long, overly expensive, developmentally inappropriate testing where the results aren't available to teachers soon enough to do them any good and the results are used against teachers.
Patrick said…
GoodFight, but we have known all along that there are students graduating who read at a 5th grade level. We know that from all the previous standardized tests, classroom assessments, etc. Interventions have been scanty afterthoughts. We need money for effective interventions, not for another very expensive test to tell us what we already know.
CB said…
6122 allows districts to use the SBAC but doesn't require it.
If SPS delinked the SBAC to graduation, the only real reason to take it would be to avoid a college pre-test for remedial classes.

If SPS required passing at whatever cut score the district chooses, everyone wold have to take it.

SPS could just make it's own requirements for graduation and still require just taking the SBAC as part of them.

6612 gives districts lots of leeway.

Certainly no requirement for test-prep.

I think I'm supporting this one as it is simple, complies with federal law while leaving districts to make choices they want.

Popular posts from this blog

Tuesday Open Thread

Seattle Public Schools and Their Principals

COVID Issues Heating up for Seattle Public Schools