Local school districts react to new state graduation requirements

State board restructures curriculum to increase credits for English and social studies

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Citing a statistic that 54 percent of high school graduates in Washington state are not prepared for college, the state Board of Education took action to implement new requirements.

Beginning with the class of 2016, graduates will be required to earn four credits in English/language arts instead of three, and social studies requirements will increase from 2.5 to three credits.

In addition, there will be a “two-for-one” policy established to allow students taking a career and technical education equivalent course to satisfy two graduation requirements while earning one credit.

Meanwhile, elective requirements will be lowered from 5.5 to four credits, keeping graduation requirements at 20 credits overall.

Locally, school districts are reacting to the plan, which includes a waiver option to postpone implementation of the English and social studies requirements for two years.

Washougal School District Curriculum Director David Tudor said current high school requirements include four years of English, so changes at the state level won’t impact the district.

However, students will be required to take an additional half credit of social studies.

“The change for implementing these new requirements would be adding a half credit of civics,” Tudor said. “Our social studies department will have to review our current curriculum to determine if and when we cover those core, civics content requirements. This work will be foundational in making a determination if we as a district will move forward with implementing the new requirements for the class of 2016 or if we will apply for a waiver.”

In the Camas School District, the new requirements won’t have much of an impact, as current graduation standards already meet the plan for 2016.

“I don’t anticipate us postponing it unless there is a different direction from the state,” Jeff Snell, assistant superintendent, said.

Last year there was discussion about requiring 24 credits to graduate, but it was deemed an unfunded mandate.

“We haven’t heard much about it since,” Snell said. “But as a district, we’re trying to identify how to teach those standards, and what are the priorities. In the midst of all of it, there is all the budget reduction talk, so we’ve only talked some about the common core standards.”

The Washougal School District requires 22 credits for students to graduate in 2012. The standards will increase to 23 for the class of 2013 and beyond. The Camas School District requires at least 22 credits to graduate.