Dorn to Testify on Reforming the Math and Science Graduation Requirements
OLYMPIA – January 25, 2010 - State Superintendent Randy Dorn will testify in front of the House Education Committee on Tuesday at 10 a.m. in support of his proposed legislation to reform the math and science high school graduation requirements.
This year’s ninth graders, the class of 2013, will be the first to be required to pass four state exams (reading, writing, math and science) in order to graduate. House Bill 2915, co-sponsored by House Education chair Rep. Dave Quall, proposes to delay the math requirement by two years and the science requirement by four years. Senate Early Learning and K-12 Committee chair Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe has co-sponsored a similar bill in the Senate (Senate Bill 6553).
Dorn is asking for the math graduation requirement to be moved back to the class of 2015 to better align the testing system with the new math learning standards. For example, this year’s ninth graders who are taking Algebra I won’t be able to take the end-of-course exam in that subject until 2011 because the exam is not available this year.
“You’ve got to be fair to the students, and the timing of this simply doesn’t add up,” Dorn said. “In 2011, we have new math learning standards, we have new math exams and we have new graduation requirements. You have all these things happening at once and that’s putting a lot of strain on the system, and it’s the students who will bear the brunt of that strain.”
Dorn is also proposing a two-tier system in math where students can pass with a score of Basic or Proficient. Those students who pass with a score of Basic on both exams must earn two credits of math after 10th grade to fulfill the math requirement.
The current math graduation requirement for the class of 2013 requires three credits of math and a score of 400, or Proficient, on the state exam. That’s equal to the minimum college-entrance requirement for most state colleges and universities, which require three math credits and a math score of 470 or better on the SAT, according to the Web sites of the Higher Education Coordinating Board and College Board.
“Our math requirement is one of the most stringent in the United States,” Dorn said. “If you don’t pass at Proficient, you’ll be required to take four years of math. I feel a two-tier system is the fairest route.”
Dorn is proposing a delay in science until the class of 2017. He is asking the Legislature to adopt end-of-course exams in science as the state readies for new science standards. Those standards would first be assessed in spring 2012, when the possible new end-of-course exams would debut.
In addition, Dorn doesn’t believe students should be held accountable to a science graduation requirement until science it taught in school every day like reading, writing and math. Results on a recent survey of science teachers by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed that Washington had the highest proportion of fourth-grade teachers in the nation (20 percent) teaching less than one hour of science a week. Only 8 percent of Washington fourth-grade teachers reported teaching science four or more hours in a week.
“We know we are very inconsistent when it comes to science instruction,” Dorn said. “If we are going to be serious about science and have a graduation requirement, we must assist school districts in buying the right curriculum, providing professional development and setting aside the time to do the proper instruction.”
For additional information, please see Superintendent Dorn’s original announcement from November 2009 on reforming the state math and science graduation requirements.