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SBE Statement on Resolution of Intent to Establish an Ethnic Studies Washington State Graduation Requirement

Release Date: 

March 12, 2021

The State Board of Education (SBE) adopted a resolution that lays out a process to develop an ethnic studies graduation requirement in Washington State. Board members received feedback from various interested stakeholders to develop the resolution. 

The resolution acknowledges that students across our state have sought to have diverse perspectives be incorporated in all subjects and grades and have expressed their desire for courses devoted to exploring ethnic studies.

“It is up to each of us to educate ourselves about the racism in this country and how it affects our BIPOC communities,” said Margarita Amezcua, SBE Western Washington Student Representative. “Only when we do the work can we begin pushing for a society founded in truth and justice where all benefit, not just the privileged few. So throughout this long process of disturbing and fighting against intense barriers, I urge that we all take the time to learn and to continue to put into words and actions the depth of what we are learning.”

The resolution states that “a foundational understanding of ethnic studies would benefit all students and contribute to equipping them to become anti-racist participants in a multicultural society, and provide an important step towards a curriculum that better reflects our population.” Washington’s student population is made up of 48.9 percent Black, Indigenous, and (Other) People of Color (BIPOC), i.e., including those who identify as American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian, Black, Latinx, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, North African, or more than one race.1

SBE also acknowledges that its authority in this matter is limited to establishing graduation requirements, and that implementing this requirement can impact the education system. The SBE recognizes that ethnic studies will not be successful without funding for continuous and consistent anti-racist professional learning for educators at all levels of the state’s education system.

The ethnic studies graduation requirement will exist within the current credit framework. SBE hopes to develop the requirement by December 2021, including a timeline for implementation. Once implemented, the requirement will provide students the opportunity to receive their required academic content through an ethnic studies lens, while allowing for local flexibility. Any changes to graduation requirements call for planning and operational details as well as the required rules to be developed with public input. SBE will discuss this further at public meetings.


1 Per the Race and Ethnicity Student Data Task Force Guidance on race and ethnicity categories as well as subracial and sub-ethnic categories

Media Contact: 

Alissa Muller
Policy Manager for Career and College Readiness
(360) 725-6501