Educators may increase English and social studies classes for future high school graduates

  • By Amy Daybert Herald Writer
  • Saturday, September 17, 2011 12:01am
  • Local News

For years, the debate has been over what types of standardized testing students need to pass to get a high school degree.

This week, educators talked about what types of classes students need to take — and those requirements may be changing.

The Washington State Board of Education discussed changing credits that students need to achieve in high school. If the changes occur, it would be the first time since 1985, and would affect students now in eighth grade

The potential changes would keep the state-mandated number of high school credits at 20 but change the allocation of those credits. The number of English and social studies would increase while the number of elective credits would decrease.

The new requirements would clarify that a half credit of health is required. Students would be allowed to take a one credit career and technical education course that a district determines is equivalent to an academic core course and complete two graduation requirements.

Potential changes also would make completion of Washington state history a noncredit requirement and replace the definition of the current 150-hour credit requirement with a non-time-based definition of a credit.

Final rules changes are scheduled to be reviewed by the state board Nov. 9-10 in Vancouver, Wash.

Approximately 16 percent of districts with high schools will need to add one credit of English, or a half credit of social studies, according to the State Board of Education.

In the Everett School District, the adjustments to English and social studies credits may mean hiring more teachers, associate superintendent Terry Edwards said. Making the adjustment to four English credits will likely require an additional English teacher at each of the district’s high schools, he added.

The changes make sense though, Edwards said. Approximately 80 percent of graduating seniors in the district already take four years of English and about 90 percent take three years of social studies.

“In my opinion, it’s a good change,” Edwards said. “These were changes that the district was probably going to be considering so the (school) board is aligning well with the state board.”

The State Board of Education started researching changes to graduation credit requirements in 2007 and adopted a resolution approving the changes last November, said Kathe Taylor, policy director for the Washington State Board of Education.

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.

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