House of Representatives
Office of Program Research
This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.
Brief Description: Regarding state board of education rules that contain unfunded mandates.
Sponsors: Representatives Klippert, Armstrong, Reykdal, Sells, Appleton, Ryu, Ormsby, Lytton, Ross, McCune and Tharinger.
Hearing Date: 1/24/12
Staff: Barbara McLain (786-7383).
The State Board of Education (SBE) establishes state high school graduation requirements. Legislation enacted in 2009 requires the SBE to forward any proposed changes to graduation requirements to the Education Committees of the Legislature for review. The Legislature must have the opportunity to act during a regular legislative session before the changes are adopted. Changes that have a fiscal impact on school districts, as determined by a fiscal analysis prepared by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), take effect only if formally authorized and funded by the Legislature.
In November 2010 the SBE proposed a 24-credit graduation requirement framework. Current requirements are for 19 credits, increasing to 20 credits with the class of 2013. The OSPI fiscal analysis identified some of the proposal as having a fiscal impact on school districts, but stated that the following aspects would not have a fiscal cost if they were implemented within the overall 20 credit framework:
increasing English from three to four credits;
increasing Social Studies from 2.5 to three credits, including one-half credit of Civics (as required by other legislation);
changing the designation of two credits of Health and Fitness to .5 credits of Health and 1.5 credits of Fitness; and
reducing required electives from 5.5 to four credits. The SBE also proposed to make the requirement for a Washington State history course a non-credit based requirement.
The SBE forwarded these changes to the Education Committees via a letter transmitted January 14, 2011. The Legislature did not act in the 2011 session, and the SBE adopted the changes in November 2011, to take effect with the graduating class of 2016. The rule adopted by the SBE further provided that school districts may apply for a two-year extension to implement the English and Social Studies changes beginning with the class of 2018. According to survey data collected by the SBE, 44 districts do not already require four credits of English, and 40 districts do not already require three credits of Social Studies.
Summary of Bill:
Any changes to graduation requirements proposed by the SBE must be forwarded to the Education Committees for a public hearing as well as review. Changes that have a fiscal impact on school districts take effect only if fully funded by the Legislature. Unless the Legislature enacts and fully funds a rule adopted by the SBE affecting the credit requirements for the class of 2016 and any class thereafter, the rule is voluntary if there is a fiscal impact to a local school district and the district files a notice of fiscal impact with the SBE.
Fiscal Note: Requested on January 19, 2012.
Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.