Washington state may extend pandemic degree exemption program through 2024
The Washington State Board of Education may extend a program that waives certain graduation requirements for students who have struggled during the pandemic.
Earlier this month, the council approved a proposal to extend the duration of the waiver program by two years, allowing the class of 2024 – pupils who were in the first year of secondary school at the time of the school closures to 2020 – to qualify. The board will vote to make the proposal permanent in May after collecting public feedback.
In 2020, the state began granting school districts the option to waive certain graduation requirements in light of the pandemic. Nearly 17% of students who graduated from high school in 2020 had an exemption, and 13% of graduates received one in 2021.
Under the current program, which is scheduled to end with the Class of 2022, school districts can waive up to two credits or one of the state’s graduation path requirements — a list of ways students can show they are prepared for the world beyond high school. , which may include passing a state exam or completing a sequence of vocational and technical training courses.
The proposal extends that flexibility to the class of 2023. The class of 2024, however, would have less wiggle room. These students can only give up one core credit, and they will not receive a reprieve from the course requirements, the justification being that they have had more time to catch up on academic problems due to school closures. schools, said Randy Spaulding, the council’s executive. director.
Educators should exercise discretion in granting the waiver; students must have been otherwise on the path to high school graduation, but faced academic challenges due to circumstances beyond their control, such as a loss of in-person services at their school. School districts should also use waivers as a last resort when they have exhausted all other efforts to help a student gain the necessary credits.
In 2021, social studies and language arts were the most common courses dropped from the program, according to a report on the program delivered to state lawmakers. Together, they accounted for about half of the courses dropped that year.