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Most state high schoolers meet proficiency exam requirements

Wed., June 15, 2011

More than 94 percent of Washington’s high school seniors passed reading and writing portions of the High School Proficiency Exam – a requirement for graduation, state officials announced Tuesday.

This is the fourth straight year that fewer than 6 percent of seniors have failed the exams, according to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“Our state has had great success in raising our reading and writing scores during the past 10 years,” said Randy Dorn, state superintendent. “But now, we must focus our efforts on math and science so our students can compete for the high-paying jobs in our state that industry leaders must look elsewhere to fill.”

The results released Tuesday reflect statewide preliminary data. Individual district information was not made public; it typically comes out in August.

“This senior class had to pass the reading assessment and the writing assessment. In 2015, we will have five assessments that they will have to pass to graduate,” Dorn said. “We are ramping up our high school graduation requirements.”

The following are recent and upcoming changes to the state assessment:

• The HSPE replaced the WASL in 2009 to shorten test-taking time. Previously, each test – reading, writing, math and science – took about two days to complete. Now, each test can be completed in one to two hours. The difference is more multiple choice questions and fewer essay-type answers. “The federal government required us to make sure the HSPE was the same difficulty level as the WASL,” Dorn said.

• Students currently take math and science state assessment tests, but recent legislation means incoming sophomores and beyond will take end-of-course exams in those subjects instead of one comprehensive test.

• Requirements for the classes of 2013 and 2014: Passing state reading and writing assessment tests and one end-of-course exam in algebra or geometry, or an approved alternative.

• Requirements for the class of 2015: Passing state reading and writing assessment tests and end-of-course exams, or an approved alternative, in algebra and geometry as well as an end-of-course exam in biology.

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