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Inland Journal, May 10, 2019: WA High School Graduation Requirements Changed

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Today on the Inland Journal podcast, an early present for Washington high school graduates, class of 2020. Governor Jay Inslee signed into law this week a bill — known as 1599 — that takes away the requirement that students pass state assessment tests before they can graduate. It used to be, if you didn’t pass those tests, even if you were a four-point student, even if you aced the advanced placement classes, you couldn’t get your sheepskin.

The tests have been a way to make sure schools and teachers are accountable for providing good education for students, but educators have long debated whether or not this is a fair measure of students’ intelligence and their ability to do well in college and the job market.

This is Rhonda Litzenberger, a school board member from Eatonville, who testified at a state House committee hearing in January.

“State-mandated high school assessments were not intended to be used as individual student exit exams," she said. "Rather, they were intended to help students to be responsive to their teaching practices, ensuring students receive instruction that fits their personal learning style, thus preparing all students, not just good test takers, to be college and career ready. Holding students’ graduation certificates hostage, due to a test that was not designed to determine individual student proficiency, is not reasonable or fair.”

We called Scott Kerwien, the director of technology and information and the director of college and career readiness for Spokane Public Schools.

To find the podcast, search for "Inland Journal" on iTunes, Google Play or NPR One or go to the Inland Journal page of the Spokane Public Radio website.