Sent October 21, 2019 to the Washington State Board of Education. View the PDF here.
Dear State Board of Education members and staff,
We at Stand for Children Washington are writing to advocate for further changes to the Board’s draft rules for Graduation Pathway options prior to their final approval. We believe the CTE option, in its current form, risks becoming a checkbox that will leave students gravely underprepared for life after high school. In addition, we request that the Board strengthen language for the dual credit and ASVAB pathways to ensure students are equipped to access the postsecondary option of their choice.
Regarding the CTE pathway, the language of HB 1599 is clear in its intention: to provide students with the opportunity to “complete a sequence of career and technical education courses that are relevant to a student’s postsecondary pathway, including those leading to workforce entry, state or nationally approved apprenticeships, or postsecondary education.” (RCW 28A.700.030) In other words, students should have the opportunity to complete a CTE pathway that is relevant, rigorous, and aligned with their career goals and the labor market.
The proposed rule, in contrast, allows students to qualify for graduation with any two CTE credits, regardless of whether these courses constitute a sequence or are picked from different programs or content areas. Mixing and matching individual courses does not create a coherent pathway and does not adhere to the legislature’s intent. The proposed rule would also place an unnecessary burden on families to verify whether their student’s CTE pathway would provide relevant preparation for career and life.
As addressed in previous correspondence with the Board, we are also concerned that the dual credit and ASVAB pathways do not reflect the intent of the statute. Regarding the dual credit pathway, HB 1599 specifically states “complete and qualify for college credit.” The responsibility should lie with districts and the state to help students from low income backgrounds access funding to pay for fees associated with claiming college credit. As currently written, the rule risks rubber stamping a system in which students may take the same course and only those with means receive dual credit. Stand intends to make reducing dual credit costs a critical part of our advocacy during the 2020 legislative session. Finally, tying the ASVAB pathway to the minimum standard creates too low of an expectation and does not reflect the intent of HB 1599 to create pathways of comparable rigor.
We urge the State Board to amend the draft rules to adhere to the statute language by requiring the CTE pathway to include a sequenced progression of courses meeting the requirements of Core Plus programs or CTE preparatory courses/programs. We recommend that the State Board incorporate OSPI’s requested language changes into final rules. In addition, we also recommend the State Board ensure students are able to enter the postsecondary pathway of their choice by requiring students to qualify for college credit, and meeting standard on the ASVAB for the military branch which they identified on their high school and beyond plan.
We appreciate the Board’s consideration.
Executive Director, Stand for Children Washington
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