Expect high school credit changes

It looks like when all is said and done, students in the class of 2016 – that’s today’s seventh-graders – will need 24 credits to graduate.

The State Board of Education adopted the Career and College-Ready Washington State Graduation Requirements at its Nov. 9 and 10 meeting. The proposed graduation requirements are the result of three years of work by SBE members and the Core 24 Implementation Task Force. They were developed with the goal of ensuring all students’ successful transition to careers, college and the community.

It’s not a done deal, as school districts are waiting to see if the Legislature moves forward with the SBE proposal and if there will be funding attached. But districts like White River and Enumclaw are getting ready.

In the past, each district set its own requirements as long as the 19 credit minimum was met, White River High Principal Mike Hagadone explained to the White River School Board at its regular meeting Nov. 10.

He said for the most part, the state board has not examined these requirements since 1985. Recently, the state made increases in math and English course requirements, beginning with the Class of 2013.

“To compete we obviously need to beef up our academics,” Hagadone said.

It’s complicated with variables, but in general, proposed requirements for the class of 2016 and beyond call for students to earn four English credits; three math credits; three science credits, two of which must be labs; three social studies; .5 health; two credits each in arts, world language, career concentration and electives; 1.5 fitness and one in occupational education.

White River High students currently need 22 credits to graduate.

Hagadone said he is looking at additional staffing for lab sciences and language courses at the high school.

He also said six credits a year for four years means there is little to no room for failure, so the district will examine its remediation course offerings.

Enumclaw High already requires that students earn 24 credits, but not in the same configuration as the state.

Superintendent Mike Nelson said for EHS students, the changes will require some adjustment and probably the loss of elective options.

Like Hagadone, Nelson noted it will require additional thought and tinkering. He said he believes most districts require more than the current state requirement of 19 credits, but few require 24.

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