State Board of Education allows flexibility for high school senior graduation requirements

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- High School seniors trying to navigate the end of the school year were left wondering about meeting requirements for graduation. The State Board of Education voted to ease some of that burden.

On Wednesday, the board voted unanimously to adopt emergency rules for the school districts in the state of Washington. These rules will allow greater flexibility when it comes to awarding diplomas to high school seniors that are impacted by the pandemic.

"In this difficult time, our state's students come first," said State Board of Education Chair, Peter Maier. "By adopting these rules, we considered the many high school students who otherwise would face great limitations due to this historic pandemic. These new rules give flexibility to let school districts support students now while honoring the student work done before school buildings closed."

According to the board, these new rules become effective immediately and will last until the end of the school year in June. The rules essentially allow districts to decide what's best for their students and meeting those requirements.

A student in Washington typically has to meet 24 credits to graduate. They also have to meet certain core and elective requirements too. But the rules allow for the district to make exceptions.

"Districts do have some flexibility built-in, but they were not able to waive credits in a situation like this," said Randy Spaulding, State Board of Education Executive Director. "You may have situations where a student may not be able to earn the last half a credit in their English course. We didn't want to prevent them from graduating because of a school closure or a building closure that prevented them from getting the instruction they needed to complete that course."

However, the Board said that districts should make a good faith effort to try to get students to meet the 24-credit threshold.

The new rules also allow private schools to waive credit-based graduation requirements for individual students and waive school day and instructional hour requirements for the 2019-20 school year.

Applications for the waiver are expected to be available online by April 15th. The Board plans on having a special meeting on April 21st to review the first round of waiver applications.