Our district mission statement is “Each student will graduate prepared to lead a rewarding, responsible life as a contributing member of our community and greater society.” The key word in our mission statement is: graduate. As a K-12 school district, graduating students is our fundamental purpose. Graduating them Future Ready is our Lake Washington School District vision.
We know that the journey toward graduation begins at kindergarten and continues through middle school. Then, when students enter high school, that journey really intensifies. Beginning in grade nine, students begin earning the required credit in the needed areas for graduation. They begin to complete the state testing required for graduation. Having a clear understanding of those graduation requirements is critically important for families and students.
The legislature and State Board of Education have been implementing changes to the state graduation requirements. Those changes then result in updates to our local district graduation requirements. It can be hard for families to keep track of all the changes. In fact, over the past several years, the graduation requirements have varied depending on the students’ graduating class. The requirements for the Class of 2014, last year’s seniors, were different from the requirements for this year’s seniors, the Class of 2015. The Classes of 2016-18 have even different requirements. Even more changes are ahead for the Class of 2019 and beyond.
We want to help parents and students keep track of the changes and requirements. Last year we began publishing an online High School Guide on our district website. The guide explains the different requirements by graduating “Class of.” We update the guide as changes are made either at the district or state level. Before students enter grade nine, families and students receive specific information about the graduation requirements for their class.
We will never add to what was communicated when students first entered grade nine, but it is possible that a requirement may be eliminated in future years. For example, the state-required Culminating Project was eliminated as a graduation requirement beginning with the Class of 2015, though students were told it was a requirement when they entered high school.
As I mentioned, more changes are ahead for the Class of 2019 and beyond. In the 2014 legislative session, the legislature directed the State Board of Education to implement new College and Career-Ready Graduation Requirements. These new requirements increase credit requirements to 24, up from the current state requirement of 20 credits. (LWSD currently requires 22 credits). In addition, students will be required to take and pass new state tests for graduation. While students have had to pass state tests as a graduation requirement for a number of years, the new tests will be tied to more rigorous college and career ready standards. We will continue to communicate as we develop plans to implement these new requirements.
Be assured that, regardless of the graduation requirements, the district is committed to our mission and vision for each and every student. For the past several years, our graduate rate has hovered around 90%. Our target for 2018 is 100% of our students graduating Future Ready!
Dr. Traci Pierce
Lake Washington School District