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Friday, June 5, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Math classes enough to graduate

Legislation lets students who fail WASL take courses in lieu of retaking test

Thousands of Washington high school students who failed the math portion of WASL won’t have to try again.

Legislation signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire this week eliminates the controversial retesting requirement.

Juniors and seniors who failed the math test as sophomores are required to keep taking math courses and passing those courses until graduation, but they will get a reprieve from the annual exams.

“Many families and students feel like, ‘Hey, if my student is already taking the math classes, why does my student have to keep taking the WASL, too?’ ” said Danette Driscoll, director of secondary education for the Mead School District.

But Driscoll said Mead officials will keep encouraging students to take the test until they pass as another way to fulfill graduation requirements.

Starting in 2007, students earning two math credits after 10th grade weren’t required to pass the math test, linked to the federal No Child Left Behind law. So students who were forced to take the test again weren’t taking it seriously, state officials said.

“The intent of the law was essentially to make sure we were continuing to assess their progress,” said Nathan Olson, state education spokesman.

In addition, some students who didn’t realize they needed to take more math classes as well as continue taking the exam got to their senior year and were denied a diploma because the WASL can be taken only once a year.

“Our goal was to ensure that every student developed their math skills at the proficiency level needed,” said state Superintendent Randy Dorn. “But there were certainly unintended consequences from this requirement and we felt the law needed to be changed to be fair to all students.”

The class of 2013 – this year’s eighth-graders – will be the first required to pass high school math and science tests in order to graduate. But that test will not be the WASL. It will be replaced starting next year by the High School Proficiency Exam, or HSPE.

That class will also be required to earn three high school math credits, or four semesters of math, for graduation. The current state requirement is two math credits.

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