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Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: graduation requirements

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February 4, 2014 at 5:00 AM

What does our diploma mean? Not much, employers say

Michael Osbun / Op Art

Michael Osbun / Op Art

There is little argument about the facts: Fewer than half of all graduating high school seniors in Washington meet basic requirements for admission to public universities, and hundreds of employers say our high school graduates do not have adequate skills in reading, writing or math — even for low-level jobs.

In Olympia, there have been various responses — everything from requiring more hours in class, to mandating tougher graduation requirements.

“Even carpenters need to pass Algebra 2 if they want to be certified,” says Rep. Kristine Lytton, D-Anacortes, who has sponsored a bill requiring more science, language and career education for high school students.

She joins the state Board of Education in pushing for a 24-credit diploma to boost rigor over our current 20-credit benchmark.

“What is a meaningful high school diploma?” Lytton asked in an interview. “We know that what we’re doing right now is not working.”

Indeed, 58 percent of Washington’s community college students need to take remedial classes before they can even start working toward a degree.

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