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News / Northwest

Washington extends emergency graduation waiver for class of 2024

Washington school districts will be able to keep waiving certain graduation requirements for high school students in the class of 2024.

By Grace Deng, Washington State Standard
Published: April 12, 2024, 8:19am

Districts will be able to keep waiving certain graduation requirements for high school students in the class of 2024.

School officials asked the State Board of Education to continue allowing them to waive requirements for the state’s “graduation pathways” for the 2023-2024 school year, citing the lasting impact of COVID-19 on students. Graduation pathways were established in 2019 to give students new avenues to graduate, such as demonstration of technical skills.

The board granted an extension to the emergency waiver on Thursday.

State lawmakers established an emergency waiver program in 2021 to prevent delays in graduating for students impacted by “unforeseen disruptions to coursework and assessments that are beyond the student’s control.”

The waiver originally allowed districts to waive up to two credits and the graduation pathway requirement for individual students until the 2022-2023 school year. In the 2023-2024 school year, districts could waive up to one credit.

In 2022, nearly 13% of students used a waiver and 8% used the pathway waiver, according to a state research brief. 

In a School Counselor Association survey of members from over 70 districts in the state, 94% said they had students who would not graduate without the pathway requirement waiver.

Board members initially expressed hesitation about extending the waiver, suggesting that it was difficult to figure out the right balance between academic excellence and student wellbeing.

New limitations developed for the 2024 waiver extension are meant to address some of these concerns by attempting to ensure students show competency in math or English either through earning credits or meeting a graduation pathway requirement.

Under the board’s adopted rules, a student can receive an emergency waiver of up to one math credit only if the student meets a graduation pathway option in math — and vice versa. The same goes for English credits. A student can only have the pathway requirement waived in both English and math if no credits in English or math are waived.

Washington State Standard is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Washington State Standard maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Bill Lucia for questions: info@washingtonstatestandard.com. Follow Washington State Standard on Facebook and Twitter.