State Board of Education deserves our thanks

Last week our State Board of Education stood strong for students – all our students – when they voted to approve rules guiding rigorous new high school graduation requirements. I attended their meeting, which was held in Spokane, and provided testimony.

While students across the state enjoy the lazy days of summer vacation, our State Board of Education worked to craft guidelines for school districts on how to implement the new College and Career Ready Diploma (SB 6552) passed by the Legislature earlier this year.

This important law ensures that each of our state’s students will graduate high school, beginning with the class of 2019, with a rigorous 24-credit diploma that prepares them for both college and a career.

The State Board of Education understands that in the not-so-distant future, more than two-thirds of jobs will require some form of post-secondary education.

Yet currently less than half of Washington’s graduating seniors meet the basic requirements for admission into a four-year public university, and many accepted into higher education need remediation. Additionally, over one-third of applicants for jobs that require a high school diploma are considered “unqualified,” according to a survey of Washington employers.

The new graduation requirements add additional credits in science, art, world language, and career and technical education, and will ensure that students graduate from high school prepared to meet expectations of Washington colleges and employers.

And thanks to the state board, there are now consistent high school graduation requirements for all students no matter where they live in the state.

The board recognized that “unusual circumstances” will arise, which might keep some students from meeting the required 24 credits. So they agreed to give students flexibility to waive up to two credits in noncore academic courses. But they held firm in requiring that all students graduate with credits in the core academic areas of math, science, English, social studies, art, physical education, and career and technical education.

The state board also recognized that parent and guardian involvement is key to a student’s academic success. In the future, the role of parents and guardians will be given precedence over school staff in helping a student make decisions about math and science course selections.

I hope you will join me in thanking our State Board of Education for their leadership and commitment to ensuring that each Washington student graduates from high school with a college- and career-ready diploma and the opportunity for success.