Stonier’s high school graduation requirements bill heading to the governor’s desk

OLYMPIA – The Washington State House of Representatives concurred with Senate amendments on a bill that would remove current barriers and provide more pathways for Washington students working to earn a high school diploma on Monday.

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.

“I first ran for office a decade ago to get this bill passed. A one-size-fits-all education system doesn’t work for all students. I’m thankful this Legislature recognizes the need to meet students where they are and why it’s so important to provide students multiple pathways to success after high school.” – Rep. Monica Stonier

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.

Statewide assessments will continue, but passing those tests will no longer be a graduation requirement under HB 1599.

Also under the bill, beginning with the class of 2020 students can earn a diploma through multiple pathways of achievement in English language arts and mathematics studies. Those pathways include earning college credit in dual credit courses, earning high school credit in high school transition courses, or successful completion of AP, IB or Cambridge international studies courses.

Other pathways include achievement on the SAT or ACT, qualifying for enlistment into the U.S. Armed Forces, or completion of certain career and technical education (CTE) courses.

“It’s common for people to change careers multiple times,” said Stonier. “Students change their minds as well, especially at that age when they’re first giving serious thought about life after high school. Our public schools need this additional flexibility to provide every student with multiple pathways to success. This student-centered approach to education will open up many more doors for thousands of Washington students.”

HB 1599 now goes to the governor for consideration. The 2019 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn for the year on April 28.