Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Education Committee

HB 2224

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: Providing flexibility in high school graduation requirements and supporting student success during the transition to a federal every student succeeds act-compliant accountability system.

Sponsors: Representatives MacEwen, Dolan, Appleton, Haler, Harris, Sells, Tarleton, Walsh, Santos and Doglio; by request of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Brief Summary of Bill

  • Beginning with the class of 2019, establishes new and modified requirements for earning a certificate of academic achievement (CAA), the acquisition of which is required for graduation, including establishing new provisions for earning a CAA and the discontinuation of alternative assessment options.

  • Establishes that, for the graduating classes of 2017 and 2018, no student who has met all other graduation requirements may be denied a high school diploma because of any assessment or required minimum assessment score.

  • Eliminates the requirement that students take and successfully complete a statewide high school science assessment as a graduation prerequisite, and includes an emergency clause making the elimination effective immediately.

  • Adds specificity to High School and Beyond Plan requirements.

Hearing Date: 6/19/17

Staff: Ethan Moreno (786-7386).


Statewide Student Assessment System.

The Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI), in consultation with the State Board of Education (SBE), is authorized to maintain and revise a statewide academic assessment system to measure student knowledge and skills on state learning standards and to use it for purposes of state and federal accountability.  The state assessment system must cover the content areas of reading, writing, mathematics, and science for elementary, middle, and high school years.  The federal Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to assess students based on state learning standards in reading and mathematics in each of grades 3 through 8 and one high school grade, as well as in at least one grade in elementary, middle, and high school in science.

In recent years, high school mathematics have been assessed in Washington using end-of-course tests (EOCs) in Algebra I and Geometry, and a tenth grade reading and writing assessment has also been utilized.  In 2011 legislation directed that high school science be assessed using a Biology EOC.  The Legislature subsequently expressed intent to transition from a Biology EOC to a comprehensive science assessment. Assessments based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), standards which are being phased in, will begin in 2018.

In 2013 the SPI was directed to implement, beginning in the 2015 school year, student assessments developed with a multistate consortium in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics.  (Washington is part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, known as SBAC.)  The SPI was also directed to use test items from the SBAC assessments to develop a tenth grade ELA assessment and modify the Algebra I and Geometry EOCs for use through the transition period.

The SBE is responsible for establishing the performance scores that students must meet on state assessments.  In accordance with statutory requirements, the SBE has established performance scores for the assessments used during the transition period, as well as the SBAC assessments.  In setting scores for the high school SBAC assessments, the SBE must review the experience during the transition period, examine scores used in other states for the SBAC assessments, including states that require passage of an eleventh grade assessment for graduation. The scores established for purposes of graduation may be different from the scores used for the purpose of determining career and college readiness.

High School Graduation Requirements.

A Certificate of Academic Achievement (CAA) or a Certificate of Individual Achievement (CIA) is one of the requirements for graduation from a Washington public high school.  To obtain a CAA, a student must meet state standards on required statewide assessments.  Students requiring special education who are not appropriately assessed by the state assessment system, even with accommodations, may earn a CIA through a variety of ways to demonstrate skills and abilities commensurate with their individual education programs.

Since the graduating class of 2008, Washington students have been required to meet the state standards on the assessment in reading and mathematics to obtain a CAA and graduate from high school. Legislation adopted in 2004 required the graduating classes of 2010 onward to also meet standard on a statewide high school science assessment to earn a CAA for purposes of high school graduation, but subsequent legislation has thrice delayed this requirement.

Graduation requirements obligate students in the graduating classes of 2017 and 2018 to meet the standard on: (1) the state assessments in ELA or the ELA SBAC; (2) at least one of the mathematics EOCs or the mathematics SBAC; (3) and the Biology EOC or the NGSS Assessment for the classes of 2017 and 2018, respectively. Beginning with the graduating class of 2019, the SBAC assessments in the ELA and mathematics will be used to demonstrate that students meet the state standard in those subjects, and the NGSS assessment will be used to demonstrate that students meet the state standard in science.

Below is a chart illustrating the assessments required for the graduating class of 2017 and beyond.

Graduating Class

English Language Arts



2017 and 2018

Grade 10 ELA


Grade 11 ELA (SBAC)

Algebra  I EOC


Geometry EOC


Grade 11 Mathematics (SBAC)

Biology EOC (2017)

with Next Generation

Science Standard Assessment for 2018.

2019 Onward

Grade 10


Grade 10 Mathematics (SBAC)

Next Generation

Science Standard Assessment

Alternative Assessment Options.

Alternative assessment options exist to earn a CAA for those who have taken an assessment at least once.  These include:

Current law also includes provisions for waiving specific requirements pertaining to the CAA for students who transferred to a Washington public school in their junior or senior year or who have special, unavoidable circumstances.

High School and Beyond Plan.

One of the state graduation requirements is the completion of a High School and Beyond Plan (HSBP).  The SBE provides that each student must have a HSBP for their high school experience, including what they expect to do the year following graduation. The content of the plan, and whether a student's plan meets applicable requirements, is determined at the district level.  A student's high school transcript must contain a notation as to whether the student met the HSBP requirement.

Summary of Bill:

High School Graduation Requirements - Modification to Assessment Requirements.

Changes are made to the high school graduation assessment requirements in science, ELA, and mathematics, as well as to alternative assessment options.

Beginning with the graduating class of 2019, a student who earns a level 3 or 4 score on the ELA and mathematics SBAC assessments will earn a CAA. In addition, a student can earn a CAA if he or she:

A student who does not earn a level 3 or 4 in one or both assessment content areas may retake the assessment in the applicable content area at least once a year at no cost. If a student earns a 3 or 4 on the retake in the applicable content area or areas, he or she will earn a CAA. Students who achieve the standard but wish to improve their score may retake the assessment must be charged a cost determined by the SPI for the retake.

While the earning a sufficient score on the SAT or ACT remains as an option for earning a CAA, all alternative assessment options for earning a CAA are eliminated after the 2018 school year. Additionally, after the 2017-18 school year, the grade 10 assessments in reading and writing, ELA, and mathematics that pre-date the full implementation of the SBAC assessments are discontinued.

Students are not obligated to take the statewide high school ELA and mathematics assessments before utilizing one of the delineated options for earning a CAA. Students who do not participate in the statewide high school ELA and mathematics assessments may use one of the other delineated options in the relevant ELA content area, mathematics content area, or both, for earning a CAA.

Students must still complete a statewide high school science assessment, but beginning with the class of 2017, the requirement that a student take and pass the assessment in order to earn a CAA is eliminated.

Exemptions from Assessment Requirements for the Graduating Classes of 2017 and 2018.

For the graduating classes of 2017 and 2018, no student who has met all other graduation requirements may be denied a high school diploma because of any assessment or any minimum assessment score required by the SBE.

High School and Beyond Plans, Including New Mathematics Requirements.

New provisions for HSBPs are established. Each student must have an HSBP to guide the student's high school experience and prepare him or her for postsecondary education or training and career. An HSBP must be initiated for each student during the seventh or eighth grade. In preparation for initiating an HSPB, each student must first be administered a career interest and skills inventory.

The HSBP must be updated to reflect high school assessments, to review transcripts, and to assess progress toward identified goals, and must be revised as necessary for changing interests, goals, and needs.

All HSBPs must, at a minimum, include the following elements:

While minimum elements are prescribed, school districts may establish additional, local requirements for HSBPs that serve the needs and interests of the district's students and for other purposes.

A school district that has implemented the 24-credit graduation requirement scheme must update the HSBP for each ninth grade student who has not earned a score of level 3 or level 4 on the middle school mathematics assessment. The purpose of this update is to ensure that the student takes one or more credits of mathematics coursework in each of grades 9, 10, and 11.

Locally Determined Course Requirements.

With limited exceptions, beginning in the 2018-19 school year, students who have not earned a CAA before grade 11 must take and pass a locally determined course in the content area in which the student was not successful. The course must be rigorous and consistent with the student's educational and career goals identified in his or HSBP, and may include career and technical education equivalencies in ELA or mathematics.

School districts are encouraged to prioritize enrolling students who must take and pass locally determined courses in available high school transition courses. A "transition course" is defined as an ELA, mathematics, or science course offered in high school whose successful completion will ensure college-level placement at Washington's state universities, regional universities, The Evergreen State College, and community and technical colleges. These transition courses must satisfy core or elective credit graduation requirements established by the SBE, and a student's successful completion of a course does not entitle the student to be admitted to any institution of higher education.

Modifications to Accountability Duties of the State Board of Education.

Numerous accountability-related duties of the SBE are modified or repealed. Examples include provisions obligating the SBE to:

Other Provisions: Academic Acceleration Policies and Washington State History Courses.

Provisions governing an optional academic acceleration policy that encourages districts to automatically enroll high school students who meet standard on statewide assessments in the next most rigorous level of advanced courses are modified to include references to existing ELA and mathematics assessments.

Any course in Washington State history and government used to fulfill high school graduation requirements must, in accordance with specific social studies curriculum revision requirements related to tribal history and culture, include information on the culture, history, and government of the American Indian peoples who were the first inhabitants of the state.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Requested on June 13, 2017.

Effective Date: This bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed, except for section 201, relating to assessment requirements for the classes of 2017 and 2018, which contains an emergency clause and takes effect immediately.