Reykdal: It’s time to compromise on state exams

Yesterday, State Superintendent Chris Reykdal requested legislation to change graduation requirements. See his statement below.

Washington state is one of a dwindling number of states in the U.S. that require students to pass exams to graduate. We are the only state with high-stakes comprehensive exit exams offered in the junior year.

Although the federal government requires each state to test high school students, we need to change our state assessment system to focus on student growth.

As of the beginning of May, nearly 6,000 students in the Class of 2017 — about one out of every 13 in that class — would be denied a diploma because they had not passed one of the three required exams.

It is time to help those students who may not graduate this year because of exams.

Different bills have been introduced in the House and Senate that address the testing requirements. Today, I requested legislation that I believe is a reasonable compromise between the two.

My bill moves the required English language arts, math, and science exams to the 10th grade. Students who do not pass one of the exams will have six options to meet the assessment requirement:

· Achieve a minimum score on the SAT or ACT determined by the State Board of Education;
· Complete an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate course;
· Complete a dual credit course, such as Running Start or College in the High School;
· Pass a college placement test;
· Pass a transition course; or
· Take a district-determined course, based on the student’s High School and Beyond Plan, and pass a comprehensive assessment at the end. The course can focus on career and technical education pathways.

The new requirements go into effect with the Class of 2019. Students in the classes of 2017 and 2018 will not be required to pass the three exams to graduate.

And finally, my bill saves millions of dollars by eliminating all end-of-course tests and the collection of evidence alternative.

Exams are supposed to be guideposts. They should tell us how students are progressing on their education paths, and they are a check on the education system. They should never be used to close doors on a student’s future.

It is time to put state testing in the proper context, as a single point of information, not as a barrier to graduation and post-high school opportunities.

For more information:

· My education vision: A Better Assessment System

· Graduation requirements

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