State board OKs lower score on new tests for students to graduate

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from The News Tribune,

For now, students taking the state’s new Common Core-based tests won’t have to prove they are ready for college or post-high school careers to earn a high school diploma.

Instead, students will be able to earn a lower score on the new Smarter Balanced tests in math and language arts and still graduate from high school, the State Board of Education decided Wednesday.

The new graduation cutoff scores aim to address concerns that the new tests are more difficult than the state’s previous high school exit exams. The multi-state consortium that developed the tests designed them to measure whether students are college- and career-ready, and not necessarily whether students have met the minimum requirements to graduate from high school, state officials said.

Only about 50 percent of high school juniors who took the Smarter Balanced tests in math and language arts this spring met the career- and college-ready standards, according to data from the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. And about half of the junior class opted out of taking the tests entirely, OSPI said.

The new tests, which Washington schools administered statewide for the first time this year, are to be phased in as graduation requirements over the next four years.

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