Washington State House Democrats


House approves reforms to high school graduation requirements

Corrected: An earlier version listed pathway options from a previous version of the bill.

OLYMPIA – The Washington State House of Representatives approved a bill that would remove current barriers and provide more pathways for Washington students working to earn a high school diploma by a vote of 91-4 on Friday.

HB 1599, sponsored by Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, eliminates the requirement that students pass the statewide standardized assessment in order to graduate. The legislation also expands the number of pathways high school students can take to earn their diploma.

“The policy changes in this bill will allow students to thoughtfully plan their futures while they’re in school and after graduation,” said Stonier.

Some of the new pathway options include:

  • completion of dual credit courses (within 24 credits),
  • completion of a high school transition course (within 24 credits),
  • meeting standards on the SAT or ACT,
  • completion of a career and technical education (CTE) program or an apprenticeship preparation program, and
  • acceptance into the U.S. Armed Forces.

“I put my name on the ballot a decade ago to come to Olympia to fight for the futures of children in the state of Washington,” said Stonier. “It is my hope that we do something this year as a legislative body to put students on a pathway forward and remove the barriers that are getting in the way of graduation.”

Washington is one of the few remaining states to require high school seniors to pass standardized tests, which were originally implemented to measure effectiveness of the education system as a whole, not individual student proficiency in a given subject area at a single point in time.

“We have had an education system that will only meet the needs of one kind of child,” said Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-Seattle, chair of the House Education Committee. “Today we are changing the trajectory for the future for thousands of Washington children.”

HB 1599 will now go to the Senate for consideration. The 2019 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn for the year on April 28.