House unanimously approves MacEwen bill changing testing requirements for high school graduation

After months of negotiation between education leaders in the state House and Senate, a compromise bill that would change high school assessment and graduation requirements is finally moving forward. In a 94-0 vote Tuesday, the House passed Rep. Drew MacEwen’s House Bill 2224, which would make several adjustments to current law in order to enable more students to graduate on time.

The legislation builds off MacEwen’s House Bill 1046, which would have delinked all state tests from high school graduation requirements. The bill was approved three times in the House earlier this year, but stalled in the Senate on each occasion.

While state tests would not be delinked from graduation under House Bill 2224, the bill would move math and English language arts assessments up from 11th to 10th grade beginning in 2019. This would provide students with more time to meet the standard necessary for graduation. Additionally, meeting standard on the state’s biology assessment would be delayed as a graduation requirement until the class of 2021. That change would also apply retroactively to the class of 2017.

MacEwen, R-Union, says that while he would have preferred House Bill 1046 to be signed into law earlier this year, House Bill 2224 is a fair, bipartisan compromise to the original bill.

“Our job is to do what’s in the best interest of our students, so it was critical to have buy-in from legislators on both sides of the aisle in each chamber, as well as from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction,” said MacEwen. “While I strongly believe delinking state tests from high school graduation requirements is the right policy for our state, House Bill 2224 represents a fair compromise that will move us forward and help students who are graduating this year and in the years to come. In the future, however, I hope we can avoid spending months working on long overdue fixes by thinking more critically beforehand about the policies we’re implementing in our K-12 system.”

In addition to the above changes, House Bill 2224 would:

  • Establish an expedited appeals process for students in the 2014-2018 graduating classes who have not met standard on the math and/or English language arts assessments;
  • Discontinue the collection of evidence objective alternative assessment;
  • Allow, beginning in the 2018-19 school year, qualifying students to meet the applicable state standard by: 1) taking and passing a locally determined course in the content area in which the student was not successful, and 2) completing a state-approved and locally administered assessment. Students would also have the opportunity to successfully complete a dual credit course in English language arts or math, which would qualify as an approved alternative assessment; and
  • Require school districts to provide students who have not earned a certificate of academic achievement (CAA) before the beginning of the 11th grade the opportunity to access interventions and academic supports, courses, or both to enable students to meet minimum high school graduation standards.

House Bill 2224 now advances to the Senate for further consideration.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov