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Performance-based Pathway

A math performance-based pathway may be completed in a language other than English. The district may need to have educators who speak the language and/or translators who are familiar with the appropriate mathematical terms and vocabulary in the language. 

While languages other than English can be incorporated into an English Language Arts (ELA) performance-based pathway in ways that are authentic to the project, honor the student's home language, and/or express the student's interest in languages other than English, the project should allow a student to demonstrate the focus standards in the English language. For example, the student may choose resources that combine sources in English and languages other than English for the research portion of the project, such as interviews with non-English speakers (see the ELA Performance-Based Pathway Task Model) but must include at least two written texts for text analysis in English. Other flexibility in the performance-based pathway that could help support a multilingual student includes more time to complete the student project, the opportunity for multiple evaluation and revision cycles, and the ability for the student to choose a project that is either an oral or written final project. (Note that an oral final project would be less focused on writing overall, but student writing must accompany the oral project.) 

Students may complete a performance-based pathway at any time during high school, however, most students are likely to be in their junior or senior year. The level of math demonstrated in the performance-based pathway must be high-school level–that is at least the level of Algebra 1 or Integrated math 1. It is strongly recommended for the student to have completed at least one year of high school math prior to beginning a performance-based pathway in math, and it would be advisable for the student to have completed two years of high school math.

The Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA) are part of the system of state assessments that school districts must administer in accordance with guidelines developed by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. It is expected that students take the SBA, but it is not a requirement. Taking the SBA may benefit the student in a number of ways. The assessment is a good check for students and parents to help confirm that the student is on-track to be prepared for career- and college-readiness by graduation. Many districts have competency-based policies that permit a student to earn high school credit for earning a graduation level or a Level 3 score on the SBA. Also, earning a Level 3 or 4 on the SBA may be used for placement into college-level college courses if a student attends a state community or technical college (students should check with the college they plan on attending). 

Students may meet more than one graduation pathway option. Students may combine the performance-based pathway option with other options to meet at least one English Language Arts pathway option and at least one math pathway option. 

A teacher with an endorsement in English Language Arts must be involved in the evaluation of an English performance-based pathway project and a teacher endorsed in math must be involved in the evaluation of a math performance-based pathway project; for a performance-based pathway project that is intended to meet both the English and math pathway requirement, both a teacher with an English endorsement and a teacher with a math endorsement (or a teacher who holds both endorsements) must be involved in the evaluation. Teachers with the appropriate endorsements must be involved in the evaluation and should be involved early to approve the project plan to ensure the project is likely to give the student the opportunity to demonstrate skills and knowledge in the required focus standards. Advisors and mentors who may help guide the student through the process of completing a performance-based pathway may or may not be the teachers involved in the evaluation. As permitted by local district performance-based pathway policy, advisors and mentors may be counselors, teachers, other educators, employers or community members.

The performance-based pathway is unlike other pathways. For evaluating the student’s performance-based pathway product, tools and guidance provided on the State Board of Education website must be used. The tools include a rubric that will help guide the evaluation process for determining whether the student has met the required standards. The performance-based pathway may or may not be completed as part of a course. If the performance-based pathway is completed as part of a course, the student’s performance-based pathway product may figure into the course grade, according to local policy and practice, but the evaluation of the performance-based pathway product should be a distinct process for determining if the student has met their graduation pathway requirement.

Yes, but the student’s performance-based pathway must address both the ELA and Math focus standards. Guidance specific to a performance-based pathway project that allows a student to demonstrate both ELA and math standards is available on the SBE website (see the Combined Task Model).

IEP teams determine needed special education services, in conjunction with grade-level core instruction, to help students access a graduation pathway that is available to all students and aligns to the student’s post-secondary goals. According to WAC 180-51-115—Procedures for Granting High School Graduation Credits for Students with Special Educational Needs, a student with an IEP must be provided necessary accommodations to progress in the general curriculum toward meeting state and local graduation requirements. This progression includes the successful completion of a graduation pathway requirement, for which the performance-based pathway is an option.

Educators and evaluators can support students with disabilities to meet standards for the performance-based pathway by providing an individualized timeline for completion of a student experience or program, enhancing the support provided to the student, and providing flexibility with the number of times a student may submit a product for evaluation and revision.

Members of a student’ IEP team can additionally support students in accessing and making progress in the performance-based pathway through:

  • Participating in and/or consulting in the evaluation of the student work
  • Determining needed special education services in conjunction with grade-level core instruction to help students access a graduation pathway that aligns to the student’s postsecondary goals (See page 20 of Graduation Toolkit Class of 2023).

It is recommended that a student’s parents be informed about the performance-based pathway and evaluation process and consulted on the evaluation team.

No. State law does not allow for modification of existing graduation pathway standards. All students must meet the same high school standards and proficiency targets described in the performance-based pathway guidance to use the performance-based option for meeting the pathway graduation requirement. The legislation that established graduation pathway options (House Bill 1599, Chapter 252, Laws of 2019) removed options for alternative graduation requirements for students receiving special education services. See question 7 for how IEP teams, educators and evaluators can support all students to make progress in the performance-based pathway.