Washington State Extends Emergency Graduation Waiver for Class of 2024

Washington state school districts have been granted the authority to continue waiving specific graduation requirements for high school seniors in the class of 2024.

Officials from schools have urged the State Board of Education to extend the waiver for the state’s “graduation pathways” until the 2023-2024 academic year due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on students. The graduation pathways, introduced in 2019, offer alternative avenues for students to meet graduation criteria, including showcasing technical skills.

The board officially extended the emergency waiver on Thursday.

To combat unforeseen disruptions to student coursework and assessments beyond their control, state legislators introduced an emergency waiver program in 2021 to prevent graduation delays.

Initially, the waiver permitted districts to waive up to two credits and the graduation pathway requirement per student until the 2022-2023 academic year. For the school year 2023-2024, districts are allowed to waive one credit.

In 2022, approximately 13% of students utilized a waiver, while 8% took advantage of the pathway waiver, according to a state research brief.

In a survey conducted by the School Counselor Association involving members from more than 70 districts across the state, 94% indicated that some students wouldn’t graduate without the pathway requirement waiver.

Initially, board members hesitated to prolong the waiver, expressing concerns about finding a balance between academic standards and student well-being.

For the 2024 waiver extension, new restrictions have been introduced to address these concerns, aiming to ensure students demonstrate proficiency in math or English by either earning credits or meeting a graduation pathway.

According to the board’s adopted rules, a student may receive a waiver for up to one math credit only if they satisfy a graduation pathway option for math, and vice versa. The same applies to English credits. A student can have both English and math pathway requirements waived only if no credits in these subjects are waived.

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