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    High School Science Alignment

    Improving diversity in science and STEM-related career fields requires focus on K-12 learning opportunities. A change in Washington state science requirements for high school graduates is a step toward sowing the seeds of diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

    Beginning with the freshmen class (Class of 2021), all Seattle Public Schools high school students will be required to have three credits (three years) of science courses to meet Washington state standards. This is an increase from the requirement of two science credits for those who graduate in with the Class of 2020. The first two years of science will provide a strong underpinning of science content and skills to open up several pathways for the required third year so that ALL students can succeed and follow their interests.

    In addition to the additional course work, students will be required to pass the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science as a graduation requirement at the end of their junior year. This examination will be based on the new Washington State Science Standards (also known as the Next Generation Science and Engineering Standards) which were adopted in 2013.

    Contact us

    Mary Margaret Welch
    Science Program Manager


    New High School Science Requirements

    The current and new course sequence are:

    Current Requirements

    • 9th Grade: Physical Science
    • 10th Grade: Biology and Biology B
    • 11th Grade: none

    New Science Requirements for Class of 2021 and Beyond

    • 9th Grade: Physics A and Chemistry A
    • 10th Grade: Biology A and Biology B
    • 11th Grade: Physics B, Chemistry B
    • 11th Grade: Advanced Path: HC, AP or IB science
    • 11th Grade: Alternative Path: Science Elective or Career and Technical Education

    Because high school students will now have to take three years of science instead of two, the High School Alignment Team has already begun re-arranging standards taught in 9th and 10th grade to help prepare students to successfully take the third year of science and pass the state science exam.

    The Alignment Team bundled the standards into six one-semester courses. Each course includes content in either biology, chemistry or physics (Biology A, Biology B, Chemistry A, Chemistry B, Physics A and Physics B). Embedded in each course are the new earth and space science standards as well as engineering, technology and application skills that are a part of the new state standards.

    Physics A and Chemistry A are conceptual in content, and the math covered in each would be what students had taken to that point in ninth grade. According to school board policy 2026 and superintendent procedure 2026SP, the A and B courses are not new, but rather a re-alignment of current chemistry, physics and biology course content to align to the new standards, and therefore do not go through a review process.

    Seattle Teachers Collaborate to Build Science Alignment Process and Timeline

    The district’s Science Department has been preparing for students to meet new state standards the past four years through collaboration of teachers of physics, chemistry and biology. 

    Additionally, the SPS Science Department commissioned a High School Alignment Team to discuss how to meet the new state graduation requirements. The Alignment Team included representatives from representatives from every comprehensive high school in the district and science content specialists represented from biology, chemistry, physics and earth and space science. 

    The team commenced Spring 2015 to analyze the standards and determine what was needed for alignment. Each member of the team has contributed over 120 hours to this project.

    The six proposed courses were taken to each high school for teacher input and review in May 2017, with the intent to come to agreement on the necessary curriculum for each of these six semester courses. Collaboration time was afforded teachers of biology, chemistry and physics during the Summer 2017 to augment the current collaboration teams in these disciplines. Collaborations were open to all teachers of chemistry, physics and biology.

    Alignment Timeline

    Spring 2013: Washington state adopts new science standards

    Fall 2014: Department heads meeting to discuss alignment. Department heads recommend each school has a representative to study alignment and make recommendations

    Spring 2015 - Present: Alignment team begins work of studying new standards. Work with authors of Science Frameworks (UW), discourse strategies (IFL Pittsburgh), work with UW to develop 3D assessments

    Spring 2017 - Fall 2017: High School Alignment Team recommends scope and sequence

    Summer 2017: All high school science teachers invited to participate in the development teams to review content bundles, adapt curriculum to the storyline within the standard bundles and to develop 3D assessments.

    Fall 2017: Revised courses created

    Fall 2017: High school science sequence determined

    January 2018: Science program manager meets with high school counselors and registrars

    January 2018: Family engagement sessions

    Spring 2020: High School Juniors take Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science High Stakes Assessment