As Washington schools begin integrating rigorous Common Core standards into their classrooms, the state Board of Education has made several decisions about new tests tied to those standards, and what will happen to existing state exams.
First: They want to abolish the current end-of-course exam in biology, generally taken by 10th graders.
The thinking here is that focusing on biology undermines broader coursework in science-technology-engineering-and-math (the so-called STEM courses). The board voted unanimously on this decision, but it requires approval from the state Legislature — which is pretty busy with other things, like school funding. Sorry, Class of 2015, most likely you’ll still have to pass that test to graduate.
Looking ahead: Passing scores on the much-feared Smarter Balanced Assessment — the new tests based on Common Core standards — have been set.
But those exams, which will be given statewide for the first time this spring, won’t affect graduation — not this year. The board will determine graduation cut-off scores in August, and those will affect the Class of 2019, this fall’s incoming ninth graders. Initially, the graduation bar will be lower than the passing score, giving teachers and students time to ramp up.More