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    The State of Washington raised graduation requirements for all students in the state through the passage of Washington State Law RCW 28A.230.090. Under the new law, all students in Seattle starting with the class of 2021 will need to earn 24 credits to graduate, an increase from 21. The 24-credit framework is designed to be flexible, so students can keep all post-secondary options open. Students graduating with the 24 required credits are prepared to enter a 4-year university, a 2-year community college program, or an apprenticeship.


    Under the state’s 24-credit graduation requirement, students must earn 3 science credits: at least two lab sciences, and a third credit of choice. In previous years, students were able to graduate with 2 science credits. In addition to the course work, students will be required to pass the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) at the end of their junior year. This examination will be based on the new Washington State Science and Learning Standards, also known as the Next Generation Science and Engineering Standards (NGSS).


    In response to the new state requirement, Seattle Public Schools has developed a 3-year sequence for our students:

    • 9th Grade: Physics A (PHYS A) and Chemistry A (CHEM A)
    • 10th Grade: Biology A (BIO A) and Biology B (BIO B)
    • 11th Grade options:
      • Standard Pathway: Physics B (PHYS B) and Chemistry B (CHEM B)
      • Advanced Path: Advanced Placement (AP), or International Baccalaureate (IB) in PHYS B or CHEM B
      • Alternative Path: Science Elective or Career and Technical Education

    Year 1: PHYS A and CHEM A 

    PHYS A provides students with units on the concepts of charge, magnetism, and waves. CHEM A covers atomic structure, ionic and covalent bonding, conductivity, and nuclear science. 

    Year 2: BIO A and BIO B 

    BIO A provides students with units on the concepts of systems and scale, animals, plants, decomposers, ecosystems, and human energy systems. BIO B covers genetics, evolution, and population ecology. 

    Year 3: PHYS B and CHEM B 

    PHYS B provides students with units on the concepts of energy, forces, and gravity. CHEM B covers the mole, reaction rates, stoichiometry, thermochemistry, and equilibrium. 


    Professional Development

    Every science teacher at grades 9-12 and HCC middle schools are invited to participate in the ongoing collaborative professional development offered by the SPS Science Department to improve and grow their teaching practice in alignment with the WA State Science Standards and the goals of Seattle Public Schools’ strategic plan. A week-long summer institute along with three school year classroom release days are offered. This is time for teachers to come together with their grade-level colleagues to deepen their competencies around culturally relevant teaching and 3-Dimensional science instruction and assessment.

    2019-20 HS Science Teacher Collaboration Workshop Dates:

    • August 13-16, 2019
    • Phys A/B: October 22 and December 4, 2019
    • Chem A: January 15 and March 12, 2020
    • Bio A: November 18, 2019
    • Bio B: January 13 and March 24, 2020  


    All courses include Pre-unit Assessments designed to elicit students’ prior knowledge and gauge their facility for using the science and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts. Pre-unit assessments also serves as a baseline to show growth over time when compared to the end-of-unit assessment of the same format. End-of-unit Assessments indicate students’ growth over the course of the unit.

    Many units engage students in developing explanatory models of unit phenomena. Students develop initial models, revise the models over the course of the unit, and then prepare final models and gapless explanations of phenomena. Explanatory models can also provide insight into students’ developing facility with the science and engineering practices of Constructing Explanations, Engaging in Argument from Evidence, and Developing and Using Models.

    State Level Assessment: Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS)

    For more on the WCAS, visit our Common Assessments page.

    All of our curriculum is designed around the Next Generation Science Standards and incorporates elements of the Ambitious Science Teaching model developed at the University of Washington.