New State High School Proficiency Exam Debuts
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New State High School Proficiency Exam Debuts

OLYMPIA – March 10, 2010 - Students in Washington will take the new High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE) for the first time next week. The HSPE, which begins on March 16 with the reading exam, now serves as the state’s assessment for graduation.

One of State Superintendent Randy Dorn’s top priorities when he took office in January 2009 was to replace the WASL. He did so with the HSPE and the grades 3-8 Measurements of Student Progress (MSP), which will first be given in May.

“I delivered on my promise to make changes to our state test,” Dorn said.

Two of Dorn’s main testing priorities have been accomplished by making the exams shorter and tied to technology.

Both the HSPE and the MSP, consisting of multiple choice and short-answer questions, will be shorter than the WASL, taking only one session to administer as opposed to two. The writing exam, which continues to include two essay questions, will take two sessions to administer.

“By shortening the tests, it leaves more time for classroom instruction and it helps alleviate the common complaint of testing fatigue,” Dorn said. “Our academic standards have not changed, so the exams are still as rigorous as ever. But we feel this is a more common sense approach to testing our students.”

For the first time, some students will be able to take their tests online using computerized forms of the tests. In May, a little more than 25 percent of students in grades 6-8 will take the reading and math MSP exams online. The online rollout plan calls for high school and fifth grade to be added next school year.

Although the HSPE is new, the state assessment graduation requirements have not changed. For example, students who did not pass the reading WASL would need to take the reading HSPE as a graduation requirement. A student who has previously passed all the state exams does not need to take the HSPE.

High school students will begin to see more changes to the HSPE in the coming years with the debut of end-of-course exams in math in 2011 and in science in 2012.

The math end-of-course exams, which will assess the new high school math learning standards for the first time, will be available in Algebra I/Integrated 1 and Geometry/Integrated 2. The exams will be given during a three-week testing window at the end of the 2010-11 school year.

The state Legislature is expected to direct the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to begin the development of an end-of-course biology exam for the 2011-12 school year and possibly additional end-of-course exams in earth science and physical science in future years. New high school science learning standards will be tested for the first time in spring 2012.

OSPI will provide more information on the math and science end-of-course exams after the end of the current 2010 legislative session.

For more information on changes to the state exams, visit, OSPI’s main entry page for state testing. Additional handouts on state testing and graduation requirements can be found at

State Testing 2010

Below is the state testing calendar for the new High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE) and Measurements of Student Progress (MSP):

March 16: Reading
March 17-18: Writing
April 13: Math
April 15: Science

Online: May 3-June 4*
Paper/pencil: May 12-May 28*

* Schools determine what dates they administer the MSP within the testing window

Changes to State Exams


   Updated 4/8/2010

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