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What is the Basic Education Report?

Release Date: 

March 27, 2024

BE highlights (click to enlarge)The Basic Education Report is a review of Washington state school districts and their compliance with basic education certification standards. (Click the image to the right to enlarge).

The Board categorizes requirements into four different categories: mandatory elements, additional required elements, notification elements, and encouraged elements. 

The data presented in the 2023-2024 Basic Education Report are results of surveys submitted by 295 school districts in Washington between May 15 and October 20 of 2023. The first section of the Basic Education Report details the mandatory elements. First, it covers the required number of hours that students must be in school, as well as the number of credits offered per year during the school day. It also touches on credit and subject area requirements as well as local credit requirements.

Mandatory elements are things a school district must have before they can even be recommended for a certification of compliance. They include the required minimum days per school year and hours of instruction, the High School and Beyond Plan, and more. 

There are also certain requirements that high schools in particular must meet. They must provide an academic acceleration program and financial education. Nearly every district in the state met those requirements. There must also be procedures in place for students who are working towards GEDs. Around 78.8% of districts have already implemented those procedures and most others are in the process of doing so.

Additional required elements are mandatory things that are explicitly stated in the law under basic education. Arts instruction, financial aid advising day, as well as social-emotional learning standards and benchmarks are all examples of additional required elements. 

In the report, the required elements category is split into two different parts: analyzing districts without a high school and analyzing districts with a high school. Almost 100% of districts without a high school met all of the required elements. The only exceptions were that 99% met the conservation, natural resources and environment requirement and 87.1% offered arts instruction in elementary and middle school.

The districts with a high school had similar results. Almost every requirement was fulfilled by every district, except for 99.6% for an elective computer science course and 93.2% in arts coursework.

Notification elements are very similar to additional required elements, except that they are stated somewhere in the law besides under basic education, and they do not factor into the basic education compliance recommendation. Things like comprehensive sexual health education, Since Time Immemorial emorial curriculum, and financial education standards all fall under the notification elements category.

Since Time Immemorial, a tribal history and culture curriculum, was mandated in schools in 2015. According to the Basic Education survey, 84.1% of school districts have implemented it. 

Nearly all districts in Washington state have implemented comprehensive sexual health education. All but two districts include social-emotional learning within those standards.

Encouraged elements are things that are strongly encouraged but not required by law. The purpose of notification and encouraged elements are to gauge what sorts of additional resources a school district might need in order to provide those elements, and the Board will often reach out to them with support. Ethnic studies, Holocaust history instruction, and the Seal of Biliteracy are some examples of encouraged elements.

Instruction of bone marrow donation was new in 2023 with the passage of House Bill 5065. School districts have not yet had the opportunity to fully implement it, but 92.8% said that they would consider offering it after the 2023-2024 school year.

The remaining encouraged elements vary quite a bit in their implementation. Almost all districts use the History of Civil Rights curriculum and Holocaust history instruction, and around 75% offer the Seal of Biliteracy to their students. Ethnic studies has the lowest implementation, with 68.7% in grades K-6 and just 44.2% in grades 7-12.

Other highlights: 

The High School and Beyond Plan (HSBP)
While it’s required that school districts introduce HSBP by eighth grade, it is encouraged that students start it even earlier. According to the Board’s data, 52% of districts began HSBP in eighth grade, while 33.5% began in seventh, and 13.2% began in sixth.

The report also found that 81.5% of school districts offer HSBP through advisory, homeroom, or a series of annual activities. 12.1% of districts embedded it in another course. 

Graduation Pathway Options
The report also gathered data on what graduation pathways were offered in each district. The most common pathways offered were the state’s SBA assessment, dual credit, and ASVAB testing. The least common were international baccalaureate courses and Cambridge Advanced courses.

School Climate Survey
76.1% of districts offer a climate survey to their students. They also request information from districts regarding their master or competency-based crediting. 71.2% of districts have permanent policies on that.

Download a copy of the full report, featured on SBE's Basic Education Compliance page.

Author: Indiana Hilmes
Graphics: Star Mendoza

Media Contact: 

Stephanie Davidsmeyer
Director of Communications