Thursday, November 18, 2010

Are new graduation requirements here?

Earlier this month the State Board of Education formally adopted Washington’s new graduation requirements called the Common Core. They will present the new requirements to the legislature in January for approval and funding. The key term here is funding, because the previous legislation was clear that the requirements would not be implemented without funding. When funded, Washington’s high school students will need 24 credits for graduation. The current state requirement is 20 for students graduating in 2013 and our district requires 2 additional credits for a total of 22.

Today, we learned that the state is forecasting an additional $1.2 billion drop in tax collections between now and 2013 giving the next legislative session starting in January an unbelievable $5.7 billion shortfall. Given this, there is little to no likelihood that the recently adopted graduation requirements will be implemented on the identified timeline.  The price tag on page 2 of this document is too much under these conditions to expect. For additional information go to the State Board web page.

So, if the new requirements are not implemented as planned, what can we expect?  The State Board has planned for this possibility by identifying the Essential 20, one of multiple changes to the state requirements that the state board sees as no-cost policy recommendations.  A comparison of the current policy to the Core 24 and Essential 20 is provided below.  Other information on this straw proposal that emerged in the June 15th State Board meeting can be found here.

At this time, moving to the Essential 20, far right column, seems a more likely possibility to emerge from the upcoming legislative session.  Given the budget shortfall, perhaps nothing will change during this session related to graduation requirements. 

This is a lot of information for something that is not likely to take place soon.  One of the interesting things about it, however, is how something of such significance can take place with very little public knowledge even in our school systems.  We'll keep monitoring and let you know if there is anything new to report.

1 comment:

Ethan Smith said...

I recognize that I don't know very much about this kind of thing. I'm wondering, though, how the Core 20 proposal could be budget neutral for school systems. It seems like this would result in at least some shift of students sitting in classes that are less expensive to run into classes that are more expensive and from sitting in classes that generate additional monies (CTE) into classes that don't. Am I off base?