The Tri-City Herald reported on June 23, 2017 that the state is backing off requiring that high school seniors pass the high stakes biology exam. Thus, the 2,000 students who failed the exam earlier this year would be allowed to graduate under the terms of an agreement on June 22. It appears that the state will drop the biology test while waiting for a more comprehensive science test to be designed. Legislators also agreed that seniors who fail the state-mandated tests in mathematics and English language arts may file an appeal to show their proficiency in those subjects in ways other than the exam.
State Superintendent Chris Reykdal supports this change since he regards the tests as a poor indicator of whether students should be able to graduate and he prefers multiple ways for students to demonstrate proficiency in a subject. In previous years, legislators had balked at removing the test requirements since they worried that doing so would lower standards.
The decision allows students in the graduating classes of 2017 and 2018 to submit an appeal to bypass the math and language arts testing requirements. Students who anticipated graduating during the three previous years, 2014, 2015 and 2016, could apply retroactively for an appeal. The state is also changing when tests are administered. Beginning in 2019, students will take the math and English exams in tenth grade rather than eleventh grade, theoretically giving them more time to pass the test or show proficiency. The measure is expected to be voted on formally on next week.