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1. What is the State Board of Education's (SBE) role in science education?

Sherman STEAM student smiling in lab with goggles

The Board provides advocacy and strategic oversight of public education RCW 28A.305.130, and establishes state credit requirements for high school graduation. The Board also sets the scores on the state science assessments to establish the level of proficiency students are expected to attain. 

 

2. What is the Washington State science credit requirement for graduation?

The state science graduation requirement is three credits of high school science, including at least two laboratory sciences.

For students who started the 9th grade before June 30, 2015, Washington requires two credits of science, including one credit of a laboratory science, in order to graduate from high school. Students who start 9th grade on or after July 1, 2015 (the Class of 2019 and beyond), are required to earn three credits of science, including at least two laboratory sciences, unless the student's home district received a waiver to extend implementation of the 24-credit graduation requirements by two years through the Class of 2020.

3. Are there Washington schools that require more than the state required credits of science?

Yes. Districts may set graduation requirements that exceed the state requirements.

4. Does the state specify what the required science courses should be?

No. 

E2SHB 6552, passed by the Legislature in 2014, specifies that the content of the third credit of science for students in the Class of 2019 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 State Board of Education, 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 the request for agreement should be made in the predominant language of the parents or guardian to the extent feasible.

5. What is the science assessment requirement for graduation?

The Washington State 2013 K-12 Science Learning Standards (WSSLS) are the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). You can view the standards on OSPI’s website

Additionally, SBE has a web page devoted to resources for the Washington State Science Learning Standards

6. What is the definition of a laboratory?

Sherman STEAM student wearing goggles in science lab
 

Rules adopted by the State Board of Education, WAC 180-51-068, defines laboratory science:

"Laboratory science" means any instruction that provides opportunities for students to interact directly with the material world, or with data drawn from the material world, using the tools, data collection techniques, models  and theories of science. A laboratory science course meeting the requirement of section (3) may include courses conducted in classroom facilities specially designed for laboratory science, or coursework in traditional  classrooms, outdoor spaces, or other settings which accommodate elements of laboratory science as identified in this subsection;

This definition allows districts flexibility in offering science laboratory courses. Laboratory courses do not need to be offered in a dedicated laboratory facility, but could also be conducted in a traditional classroom, outdoors, or in a combination of settings.

7. What is the responsibility of districts to offer Career and Technical Education equivalent courses in science?

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. 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 2,000 students may apply to OSPI for a temporary waiver from the requirements of RCW 28A.230.010.

8. Does Advanced Placement Computer Science meet a science graduation requirement?

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.

Page last updated: September 2020.