Washington Senate Senate approves bill for graduating students to take bridge year

Photo courtesy: Washington State Patrol

A measure that would allow high school students set to graduate this year or next to stay in school for a "bridge year" to catch up on learning and participate in missed extracurricular activities passed the Washington Senate.

The Olympian reported that the bill passed the chamber on a 32-17 vote Wednesday. It now heads to the House for consideration.

Under the proposal for the pilot program for 2021 and 2022 graduation years, students who’ve met graduation requirements could defer their graduation and pursue a bridge year. They also could retake classes and boost grades that may have faltered during the pandemic, and districts would be required to expunge any Ds or Fs from a student’s transcript if they get a higher grade in the same class during their bridge year.

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Democratic Sen. Sam Hunt, the bill’s prime sponsor, said he tailored the bill on a similar law in New Jersey.

If the measure passes the House and is signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction would administer the program.

During the first term of the bridge year, students could take classes at their high school or an institution of higher learning that offers the Running Start program, or both. During the second term of that year, they’d be required to take classes at an institution of higher learning with Running Start classes or through a College in the High School program.

High schools would be required to designate a "bridge-year liaison" to create individual plans for and with students.

Under the measure, private schools could elect to participate in the program.