State Board of Education survey closes October 31

We encourage you to support the arts requirements for high school graduation by providing your feedback to the Washington State Board of Education (SBE).  The SBE is currently conducting a community survey on the components of the new provisional Washington State Graduation Requirements that were adopted in September with the goal of ensuring all students’ successful transition to careers, college, and the community. These efforts are the culmination of three years of work by SBE members, the CORE 24 Implementation Task Force, educational leaders, teachers, parents and other stakeholders, throughout which ArtsEd Washington has represented you.

Final adoption of the new graduation requirements will take place at the SBE’s November meeting and we encourage you to voice your support. The SBE survey closes on October 31st, so act now to contribute your input! Then take a moment to share this request with others in your circle of influence. Read on to learn more about the arts credits requirements and why it is vital to make your voice heard.

Why is it important to respond to the survey?

The SBE has indicated that community input and the collected perspectives are important and will be taken into consideration prior to the final adoption of their proposed new graduation requirements this November. That is why it is extremely important that the SBE receive a strong show from the community in support of the arts credits.  As you make your input on the survey, consider how we can best ensure that two arts credits will be approved and included effectively in the new graduation requirements.

What is the Career and College Ready Pathway?

The Career and College Ready Pathway is an automatic track for all enrolled high school students who have not made other specific choices. This pathway allows them to meet and exceed the minimum subject requirements for admission to WA State 4-year public colleges, keeping many options open.  Within this course framework, two credits of art are included.

We know that some students do not have strong guidance and support and it’s important that the Career and College Ready Pathway sets them on the right path, literally, for success in their future and keeps as many options as possible open for them until they are ready to make their own choices and choose a direction. ArtsEd Washington believes that using the Career and College Ready Pathway, students will get a balanced and well-rounded education that addresses their social, emotional, physical, and cognitive growth. We support the two arts credits being included in this automatic pathway.

What is the High School and Beyond Plan and how does this provide student choice?

For students ready to engage in making some choices on their coursework, there are opportunities that allow them to substitute courses based on their overall High School and Beyond Plan (HSBP). Seven credits (including one of the arts credits) can be substituted by student choice. In addition, there are two further elective credits for a total of 8.5 credits of choice. A student who wants to add arts credits has lots of scope to do so, and could have a final graduation transcript with their arts courses of choice during all four years of high school as well as four years of foreign language. Many different schedules can be envisioned here for unique student pathways to the future. However, we also see the risk that students may do a “default” replacement of the additional arts credit and we want to see some steps in place to avoid that. We’d like to see the HSBP strengthened and shared more effectively with parents and families as an ongoing tool for student planning, with opportunities for students to thoughtfully consider their choices, placing them in the driving seat with a strong sense of their choices and options.

Why is it important for the community to respond to these questions?

ArtsEd Washington believes that clarity of expectations to school administrators, counselors, families, and especially to students is very important. We encourage you to emphasize that the SBE’s ongoing leadership is needed in helping to communicate the value of this revised graduation requirement and in particular the importance and relevance of the additional arts credit. We do not wish to see the emergence of an automatic substitution of the additional arts credit. Ask the Board to ensure that, as this policy is refined, there will be guidelines that help students understand that the arts are a core subject not only because of their intrinsic value but also because of the overall educational value they offer and the role they play in development and nurturing of critical 21st Century skills. The benefits of arts learning transcend career choices and are valid for all students regardless of where their future will take them.

To learn more about the changes in the graduation requirements, read the State Board FAQ.