Governor opposes state schools chief on changes to math and science rules

  • Jerry Cornfield
  • Thursday, November 19, 2009 2:21pm
  • Local News

Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn said today he wants to delay by at least a year the requirement for high school students to pass certain math and science tests graduate.

Current rules impose the requirement starting in 2013..

Regarding math, Dorn will ask the 2010 Legislature to:

“Continue the current requirement of either passing a state math exam or earning two credits of math after 10th grade through of the class of 2014. and

-Establish a “two-tier” bar for the math graduation requirement, beginning with the class of 2015, in which one tier – Proficient – is the goal, but another tier – Basic – is enough to earn a diploma. Students who meet Basic would be required to earn a fourth credit of math.

Regarding science, he wants to significantly change the graduation requirement to include “the creation of end-of-course exams in life sciences and physical sciences instead of using single comprehensive science test.”

He wants to delay implementation of the requirement until 2017 to give students time to learn the new science standards, and the new end-of-course exams have been administered for two years.

Shortly after statewide teachers union publicly embraced the proposal, Gov. Chris Gregoire issued a very blunt rejection of the idea.

In a prepared statement, she said:

“I oppose the proposal. As our state and global economies become more technically driven, we need to ensure that our students leave high school highly-trained in math and science so they can qualify for Washington state jobs or entry into training and higher education programs of their choosing.

“Our students are capable of mastering our state’s standards in math and science. They have shown us their capacity to meet our expectations in the past. Schools I visited recently give me every indication that when students know the work is important they dig in and make the most of it.

“We can’t lower our standards in math, nor can we communicate that science is not important. We must prepare our students for their future. There is every reason to focus attention on the math and science learning needs of our students so they can succeed after high school. The Superintendent is concerned about the graduation rate. I am concerned about the bigger picture – preparing kids for life. I think parents share that concern.”

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