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The Board provides advocacy and strategic oversight of public education RCW 28A.305.130, and establishes state minimum graduation requirements.

The Board also sets the scores on the state math assessments that students must attain to meet or exceed state standards.

In addition to other responsibilities, the Legislature directed the Board to add a third credit of math to graduation requirements, and to propose the content of those credits. The SBE conducted extensive studies and outreach to stakeholders and, in 2008, the SBE wrote rules (previously WAC 180-51-066, now included in WAC 180-51-56) establishing 3 credits of math as a graduation requirement for students beginning with the Class of 2013 (students who entered 9th grade after July 1, 2009). The rules specified the content of the three credits (see questions 3 and 4 below).

The 2013 Legislature (EHB 1450) gave the SBE the responsibility of setting the score for graduation on the Smarter Balanced math assessment (SBAC). The SBA is one of the graduation pathway options students may choose to complete to meet their pathway graduation requirement.

At the direction of the 2007 Legislature, the SBE amended the graduation requirements rule (previously WAC 180-51-066, now included in WAC 180-51-56) to add a third credit of math and prescribe the content of those credits. All other subsequent revisions to credit graduation requirements included a requirement for three credits of math.

Students must take (or demonstrate mastery/competency in) Algebra I or Integrated Math 1, and Geometry or Integrated Math 2, or earn credits in equivalent career and technical education (CTE) courses (see questions 6, 7, and 8 below for additional information on CTE-equivalent courses).

Students in the Class of 2013 to 2018 (students who entered the 9th grade after July 1, 2012, and before June 30, 2015) should take Algebra II or Integrated Math III, or a rigorous, high school-level math course that meets the student's education and career goals identified in the student's high school and beyond plan, subject to the following requirements:

  • Choose a course that is based on a career-oriented program of study identified in their high school and beyond plan.
  • Meet with a high school representative and their parent/guardian (or designee if a parent or guardian is unavailable) to discuss the student’s high school and beyond plan and the requirements for credit bearing two- and four-year college level mathematics courses.
  • Sign a form, along with the high school representative and parent/guardian, to acknowledge that: 1) the meeting was held, 2) the required information was discussed, and 3) the parent/guardian (or designee if a parent or guardian is unavailable) agrees that the course is more appropriate for the student’s education and career goals.

For students in the Class of 2019 and beyond (unless the student's home district applied for a waiver extending the implementation of the 24-credit graduation requirements by up to two years), E2SHB 6552, passed by the Legislature in 2014, specifies that the content of the third credit of math may be chosen by the student based on the student's interest and their high school and beyond plan, with the agreement of the student's parent or guardian or agreement of the school counselor or principal. Rules adopted by the SBE, WAC 180-51-068 and WAC 180-51-210, clarify that the school must give precedence to the direction of the parents or guardian, if provided, and that request for agreement should be made in the predominant language of the parents or guardian to the extent feasible.

Students and educators should be aware that Algebra II, as well as a senior year math-based quantitative course, is a College Academic Distribution Requirements (CADRs), a requirement for admission to Washington public four-year baccalaureate institutions, as well as many other colleges and universities.

The State Board of Education intends for the third credit to be a rigorous, high school-level math course that will serve the student's education and career goals. Courses in which the majority of the math is at a K-8 level would not qualify for the third credit. Traditional math examples may include, but are not limited to: statistics, discrete math, linear algebra, and mathematical modeling.

CTE (Career and Technical Education courses)-equivalent courses are CTE courses that meet math graduation requirements, and have content that aligns not only with CTE standards but also math standards. Each local district determines CTE-equivalent courses, and are required to do so by law (RCW 28A.230.097). A sample of CTE credit equivalency policy and procedure is available on our website. An Equivalency Toolkit can be found on OSPI's website.

E2SSB 6552 passed in 2014, directs OSPI to develop curriculum frameworks for a list of CTE courses with content equivalent to science or math courses that meet high school graduation requirements. The list of math-equivalent CTE courses and frameworks are posted on OSPI’s Career and Technical Education web pages. The bill, codified in RCW 28A.230.010, requires that boards of directors must provide high school students with the opportunity to access at least one CTE course that is considered equivalent to a mathematics course or at least one CTE that is considered equivalent to a science course as determined by OSPI and approved by the SBE. Students may access such courses at high schools, inter-district cooperatives, skill centers or branch or satellite skill centers, or through online learning or applicable running start vocational courses.

School boards of districts with fewer than two thousand students may apply to OSPI for a waiver from the requirements of RCW 28A.230.010.

Yes. If most of the course is rigorous high school level math, the title of the class is immaterial. CTE math examples might include, but are not limited to, OSPI-approved frameworks in: robotics, engineering design I and II, drafting for civil and architectural engineering, construction math, applied mathematics, business economics math, financial literacy, and business statistics.

CTE model frameworks are available on the CTE pages of the OSPI website.

To count as a third credit of math, a CTE mathematics course should not be identical to a math course the student has already taken. For example, if a CTE mathematics course is transcribed as “geometry,” and a student has already earned credit for geometry, only one of the courses may count toward meeting the mathematics graduation credit requirement. (See the Transcript FAQ for the procedure when a student repeats a course.) While it is useful for students to practice learned math skills in different settings, for a course to count as a third credit of math, a significant portion of the math learning standards content and/or practices must be different from previous credit the student has earned in math. 

Students in the Class of 2016 (entering ninth grade in 2012-2013) and beyond, who earn a math graduation requirement credit through a CTE course locally determined to be equivalent to a math course will not be required to earn a second credit in the CTE course subject; the single CTE course meets two graduation requirements (WAC 180-51-067(8)(b)). More information may be found in the CTE Graduation Requirement FAQ.

If the majority of the course is high school level math, the title of the class is immaterial. Districts will need to make these determinations locally by clearly identifying the standards and competencies the course represents.

RCW 28A.230.097 requires school district board of directors to approve Advanced Placement (AP) computer science courses as equivalent to high school mathematics or science, and must denote on a student's transcript that AP computer science qualifies as a math-based quantitative course for students who take the course in their senior year.

No. The support class may count as an elective credit, but it cannot satisfy the third credit of math. Algebra I/integrated mathematics I and geometry/integrated mathematics II or their equivalent CTE courses form the basis of a student's mathematical experiences. The intent of the third credit is to enrich and build upon those experiences.

No. If a student repeats a course, each occurrence can only count toward one type of graduation requirement. The first time the student takes algebra I the student may meet one math credit for graduation. The second time the student takes algebra I it may count toward an elective credit.

No. If a student repeats a course, each occurrence can only count toward one type of graduation requirement. The first time the student takes algebra I the student may meet one math credit for graduation. The second time the student takes algebra I it may count toward an elective credit.

Yes, this type of class may count as the third credit of math if the following conditions are met:

  • The math class is rigorous, high school-level math that helps the students meet his or her education and career goals.
  • The math class is not the same as Algebra I or Integrated Math, or Geometry or Integrated Math 2 courses the student may have taken previously.

Yes. A student may take high school-level math in middle school and elect not to put the credit on his or her transcript, and then begin earning credits to meet graduation requirements with a more advanced math course in high school.

A student who prior to ninth grade successfully completes one or more high school level math courses with a passing grade and opts to receive no high school credit for such course(s) in accordance with RCW 28A.230.090 and WAC 180-51-030, or a student who demonstrated mastery in these subjects but did not receive high school credits, may either:

  • (A) Repeat the course(s) for credit in high school; or
  • (B) Earn three credits of high school mathematics in different math subjects than those completed before high school. The student must take algebra 1 or integrated mathematics I and geometry or integrated math II in high school if the student did not complete these courses at a high school level prior to high school, but the student does not need to repeat courses if the student already passed the courses at a high school level. (WAC 180-51-210).

Also, through mastery-based credit, if a student is successful in completing a higher-level course that includes a continuing progression of the learning standards, it may demonstrate mastery of the content of the lower-level course in a sequence. For example, a student may be able to demonstrate mastery of Algebra 1 by successfully completing an Algebra 2 course. In general, a class in geometry would not show a continuing progression of learning standards in algebra. See WAC 180-51-051 Procedure for Granting Students Mastery-based Credit:

(d) Successful completion of next higher-level course: Districts may award credit for a course when the student successfully completes the next higher-level course in a sequence that includes a natural progression of the state learning standards from the previous course. Districts shall use the state or locally determined learning standards as their guide when making decisions regarding what courses should qualify.

For the Class of 2019 and beyond: In 2019, the Legislature established multiple graduation pathway options (HB 1599), so that students have multiple ways to demonstrate their readiness to graduate from high school. For math, students can either demonstrate proficiency in one of the pathways with a specific math component (state assessment, dual credit, AP/IB/Cambridge, SAT/ACT, or a transition course), or by completing the CTE sequence or ASVAB pathway. (Clarifying note: Students who pursue these pathways (ASVAB or CTE) do not need to meet English and math requirements separately. English and math content are embedded in both pathways—and a student who meets either the ASVAB standard or the CTE pathway requirements has met the graduation pathway requirement.)

For previous gaduating classes: In 2013, the Legislature specified the assessment requirement for the graduating Classes of 2008 to 2019 (EHB 1450). Students in the Classes of 2015 to 2018 will be graduating during years when the state will be transitioning to assessments aligned to new math standards, the Common Core State Standards. Students in these classes will have several options for meeting their math assessment requirement, including passing an EOC or passing the 11th grade Smarter Balanced assessment (SBAC). The score required for graduation on the SBAC was determined by the SBE and can be found on our Graduation Pathways Options web page.

Graduation requirements for the classes of 2019 to 2024, including required assessments or the graduation pathway options (depending on graduation year), are available on the SBE website.

Adults 21 years of age or older in high school completion programs offered through public community and technical colleges do not need to meet assessment requirements or graduation pathway options. (WAC 180-51-035).

No. Although OSPI and SBE may recommend certain math programs, the local school district is entrusted with choosing the best curriculum for their students.

Page last updated: December 2020.