The state is focusing on making sure high school seniors are ready for the next step, whether that’s college, an apprenticeship or a job.
Now, a new state board of education work group is looking into the idea of letting students advance through school based on what they know instead of just the number of classes they’ve taken.
This has become more relevant because the class of 2019 was the first group of high school seniors that had to complete more credits to graduate – 24 instead of 20. Many school districts got permission from the state board of education to delay that, but they’re working on ways to make sure students can earn all those credits to graduate on time.
This past legislative session, lawmakers passed an education-related bill that included an item requiring that the state board of education establish a “mastery-based learning” work group. The idea is that students demonstrate that they’ve mastered certain skills or subjects, and therefore perhaps don’t need to take that particular subject in order to get credit.
“For instance, native language speakers maybe don’t need to take a Spanish course because they’re fluent, so they can take a test, prove they have that fluency and then get credit for that native language,” said Alissa Muller, policy manager for college and career readiness at the state board of education.
The work group includes several lawmakers, students and school staff. It’s supposed to finish a preliminary report by December.
A handful of alternative schools already have received waivers from the state board of education to issue competency-based diplomas rather than credit-based degrees. Those schools include Highline’s Big Picture High School and Issaquah’s Gibson Ek High School. Students do internships and self-directed projects and then demonstrate they’ve mastered certain skills.