Monday we cited strong editorial support for maintaining Washington’s graduation testing requirements. In an op-ed in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, one of the papers endorsing the testing requirement, Washington Roundtable president Steve Mullin makes the case for the assessment-based graduation requirement. We encourage you to read the commentary in its entirety. It’s a compelling argument.
For example, Mullin writes,
Our state requires all students to earn 24 credits to earn a diploma. That requirement ensures students take the classes necessary to give them a chance to transition successfully to postsecondary education, training, or work. However, it is the state’s assessment-based graduation requirements, put in place more than a decade ago, that ensure students graduate with at least a basic set of reading, writing and math skills.
As a state, we collectively decided it was a great disservice to promote students who, without basic skills in a few core subjects, would face extremely limited life and career options after high school.
That commendable decision is now being challenged.
Now some in the Legislature want to scrap the assessment-based requirements altogether, even though graduation rates for every student group have steadily increased since the requirements were put in place, and college remediation rates have fallen over the same time period. Bills introduced in the House (HB 1046 and HB 2621) and the Senate (SB 6144) would abandon the unanimous bipartisan compromise from last year before it takes effect.
Backing away from the commitment has harsh consequences for public education.
If one of these bills passes, the state would return to a system whereby students receive high school diplomas even if they are unable to demonstrate minimum 10th grade standards in reading, writing, and math — standards that were intentionally set well below career and college ready standards.
Furthermore, delinking the state’s competency-based requirements from graduation will ensure that policymakers and educators no longer receive meaningful data on the performance of Washington’s high schools. These data are used not only to hold high schools accountable for state and federal accountability purposes, but more importantly, they are used to trigger and direct support for students.
Lawmakers should honor the commitment they made unanimously last year and give the system a chance to work.