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Washington schools provide alternatives to testing for graduation

After a unanimous vote recently, the Washington state Board of Education has officially expanding pathways to graduation, meaning that while students are still required to take federally-mandated exams, they aren’t required to pass them.

The purpose of the rules is to give students varied options in graduating, a result of situations in which students were a few points shy from passing a mandated exam and couldn’t graduate. The new rules are designed to adapt to various students’ learning styles and different career paths, adding a flexibility the previous standard didn’t quite have, reports The Spokeman-Review.

New state education head seeks more opportunities for students, less testing

Along with meeting credit requirements, the class of 2020 will be able to graduate by passing the Smarter Balanced Assessment, taking two career technical-education (CTE) courses, passing a military aptitude test, and/or taking “Bridge to College” courses, among other options.

“We are honored by the responsibility entrusted to us by the Legislature and believe that because of the feedback we have received, the adopted rules can help to improve Washington’s education system for students,” said State Board of Education Chair, Peter Maier in a statement. “As we actively seek to identify and eliminate biases and barriers to student success, we commit to continually engage the public so we can provide actionable data about graduation pathway options to decision makers at the Capitol.”

Washington schools superintendent wants more funding to support students

Delinking graduation from standardized tests was one of the goals of Larry Delayney, the newly elected president of the Washington Education Association.

“When we force educators to teach to test some arbitrary standards, that really hamstrings and we lose the richness of education,” he told Seattle’s Morning News recently. “We’re in a better place right now in public education in Washington, because now we provide multiple pathways for students to exit. Standardized assessment is simply one of those pathways.”

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