Will allow students to satisfy two graduation requirements in one class
Secondary students who choose courses in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) arena can now utilize the courses to satisfy not one, but two, graduation requirements.
Known as “course equivalencies,” the classes meet both CTE requirements as well as math, science or English language arts requirements.
This past week, State Superintendent Randy Dorn approved the first English language arts course equivalency, Core Plus English.
“Course equivalencies give students core academic knowledge along with real-world applications,” Dorn said.
Course equivalencies for high school graduation began in the 2015-16 school year, after the passage of Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 6552. While they have existed since 2008, the course equivalencies qualified only as advanced placement courses until E2SB 6552.
Dr. Ken Emmil, OSPI’s assistant superintendent for career and College readiness, noted the increase in graduation rates among students in CTE programs. “Among our vulnerable student population categories, graduation rates can be 10 to 15 percentage points lower than their peers,” he said.
“For example, students in the Class of 2013, about two out of every three Hispanic and black students graduated from a Washington high school. For those students who focused on CTE programs, the graduation rates for both groups of students was four out of five.”
Course equivalencies are designed with a curriculum that ensures students gain core academic knowledge applicable to required career and technical education credit. Because the courses satisfy two graduation requirements, students have more power and control in defining their own future, as well as more flexibility in decision making.
For math and science, Dorn recommends specific courses for equivalencies to the State Board of Education. The Board reviews the recommendation, allows for public comment and then approves.
As of 2015-16, more than 30 course equivalencies have been approved by the State Board. Examples include Engineering Design 1, residential carpentry and biomedical sciences.
Districts also can approve local course equivalencies. Emmil, though, recommends that “school districts utilize state approved courses whenever possible as they provide a layer of continuity for those students transitioning between schools within a school year.”