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Seniors take state history on the fly

Schools cram course into a few weeks to satisfy state rules

Spokane Public Schools’ high school seniors recently had to do some extra cramming to meet their graduation requirements.

The nearly 2,000 teens had to squeeze in a Washington state history section, normally a nine-week lesson, in fewer than three weeks, and it was wrapped into their current social studies courses.

“They just sort of sprung it on us,” said Blair Kelly, a Lewis and Clark student. “It was pretty late on.”

Kelly received the packet in her European history class. “Our teacher gave us some packets, and had us answer some questions,” Kelly said. “My teacher wasn’t too happy about it, so she didn’t spend too much time on it.”

The problem is occurring now because when the history class was switched in the 2004-2005 school year from ninth to seventh grade, per a state recommendation, the eighth- and ninth-graders were skipped over, said Terren Roloff, district spokeswoman.

The ninth-graders never completed the credit, but the Washington Board of Education agreed not to rescind their diplomas, officials said.

The district found out about the missing class session this year when an administrator received a call about a transferring student asking if the requirement had been filled, said Michelle Lewis, the district’s curriculum coordinator.

The class is a half-credit social studies course, Lewis said. Normally, none of the classes taken in middle school is credited.

“Part of that misstep has to do with transcripts transferring from the middle school to the high school,” Lewis said. “Usually there’s no communication.”

When the problem was realized, the district contacted the Washington Board of Education and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Roloff said. A two- to three-week unit and assessment was devised to give to seniors so they would meet the graduation requirement.

The lapse in the Washington history class is fixed now. But since middle school coursework doesn’t reflect on high school academic records, Lewis said, several school districts are asking the state to reconsider the earlier change.

“We are waiting for the state to address it,” Lewis said.



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