The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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State Board of Education proposes changes to graduation requirements

The Washington State Board of Education has proposed new graduation requirements for the upcoming class of 2016. These new standards aim to better prepare students for college and to keep the education system up-to-date.

The Board has proposed to add another required English credit, increase social studies by another .5 credits to include a .5 credit of civics, decrease electives to 4 credits, make Washington State History and Government a non-credit requirement, clarify that the health credits include .5 credits of health and 1.5 credits of fitness, and lastly, allow students taking a CTE-equivalent course to earn one credit but fulfill two graduation requirements at the same time. Also in the proposal is the definition of a high school credit would change from a time-based 150 instructional hours to either a state-adopted learning standards or a district policy proving competency in the subject matter. The total number of required credits to earn a high school diploma will remain at 20 credits for Washington state.

When revising the mandatory classes, the Board wanted to change the framework of the requirements as well. They changed minimum graduation requirements to essential or core graduation requirements changing the focus from the least amount of work to what is needed in the future. High school graduation is viewed as a beginning instead of an ending. The vision and focus of the new setup is to help students be prepared for careers and colleges.

The question that remains is if that is a good decision or not.

MTHS band director Darin Faul said, “Sometimes I think our education program is so focused on college and the future that we forget about other options out there. Students lose motivation because school is no longer about their education but about getting into college.”

Giving students more freedom and having more control with their schedule choices and class content will increase enthusiasm in students and help them become better learners. “Raising the standards does not increase motivation,” Faul added. “We need to increase motivation in students to help them be successful.”

The last change made to the graduation requirements was in 2009, which affected the class of 2013. The Board added another credit to the math requirement, bringing it up from two to three mandatory credits. Other than the single credit change, the gradation requirements have stayed intact for about twenty-five years. Washington currently requires 3 English credits, 3 math credits (for the class of 2013 and beyond, 2 credits required for class of 2012), 2 science credits, 2.5 social studies credits, 1 visual or performing arts credit, 1 occupational education credit, 2 health credits, and 5.5 elective credits.

When comparing Washington’s graduation requirements to other states’ requirements, it was discovered that 45 states require more English credit, 16 require more math, 36 more states required more science, and 39 required more social studies credit. These numbers show that Washington has fallen behind, resulting in calls for reform to the state graduation requirements.

The proposed changes have been backed by three years of extensive research and planning. They are intended to better prepare students for jobs and higher education as well as to bring the expectations of Washington state back in line with the rest of the country.

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“I don’t think requirements are going to improve education as a whole, but it is a step in the right direction,” MTHS history teacher Michole Mattix said. “Our district has done a good job of creating high standards already.” The Board aims to prepare students for the future. Whether they are able to achieve this by increasing standards is up for debate.

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