The Washington State Board of Education today fell short of setting a clear path for our state toward all students graduating high school prepared for their next step in life.
The State Board of Education’s leadership has been essential in trying to realize their own vision of “a high quality education system that prepares all students for college, career, and life.” Nine years ago, they recommended that the state update high school graduation requirements to 24 credits, and they saw that recommendation to fruition in 2014 despite opposition and numerous obstacles along the way.
Unfortunately, the State Board made no progress today toward moving the system forward in preparing all students for college, career, and life. They took an “equal impact” approach on setting the English Language Arts (ELA) cut score. Due to poor-quality data, the State Board was unable to take an “equal impact” approach in setting the score for Math, so they set a correlating score based on the ELA cut score. This approach maintains the status quo without setting any specific date by which the cut score would be set at a college and career ready level or a plan to get there.
The League of Education Voters acknowledges the complexity of setting graduation cut scores. We also believe that decisions based on maintaining an “equal impact” without any date or plan to get to the goal of college and career readiness for all students is not good enough for our students, nor is it leading with a sense of urgency for the approximately 50 percent of high school graduates who enter postsecondary in remedial courses.
A transition period is understandable. A transition period with no end date or specific plan does not serve our students’ best interests, nor does it display any urgency for closing our state’s growing achievement and opportunity gaps.
Earlier this summer, we called on the State Board again to hold our system to a higher standard. We asked that they set the graduation cut score at the level of college and career readiness—level 3—in order to bring our state closer to their vision, or at least set a date for when this goal might be achieved. They started to do so in a draft position statement but postponed that action and any related discussion until the September meeting.
We look to the State Board to once again to become a leading voice for all students, and the League of Education Voters is committed to working with them and others going forward to ensure that the State Board achieves its vision of preparing all students for college, career, and life.