A new national study says Washington is one of 46 states whose high-school graduation requirements don’t line up with admission requirements for public universities.
But the study doesn’t capture major changes that are on the horizon here.
The audit of state high-school graduation requirements, by the Center for American Progress, looks at coursework requirements in the major subjects and asks whether the requirements to earn a basic diploma also qualify a student for enrollment at a public college.
The report found just four states — Louisiana, Michigan, South Dakota and Tennessee — matched high-school diploma requirements with public-college requirements.
In Washington, however, things are about to change.
In many districts, the graduating class of 2019 will need to earn 24 credits in order to graduate — up from 20 credits previously. Those credits generally line up with the minimum level of preparation required in six subject areas by the University of Washington. (Some districts are delaying the new requirements until 2021.)
Washington’s new graduation requirements do offer flexibility for students who don’t plan to attend a four-year college, said Alissa Muller, spokeswoman for the Washington State Board of Education, which sets graduation requirements.
For example, if a student plans to attend a technical college or join the workforce after graduating, the student might not need to take two years of a world language, which the UW and most other public colleges and universities require for admission.
Students also have flexibility in choosing the types of science and math courses they must complete. For example, while the UW requires applicants to complete three credits of math that include algebra I and II and geometry, a student could meet the state high-school-diploma requirement by taking two years of integrated math, plus a third math credit — a less rigorous pathway than required by the UW.
The Center for American Progress report says lining up graduation requirements and college-admissions requirements is important “because they create, or stifle, what is possible for students as they progress through and beyond high school.”