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High School, College, Career

Rigorous Career and College Readiness

Rigorous High School Course Enrollment – Policy 2194

All high school students should have access to rigorous courses, including dual credit courses. Research shows that access to rigorous courses is both what SPS students and families want and what correlates with higher rates of postsecondary success.

There have been numerous studies that illustrate that access to rigorous courses is more limited for students of color furthest from educational justice. Thus, this access is a critical component of the district’s strategy for meeting its commitment to racial equity, as described in Policy No. 0030, Ensuring Educational and Racial Equity.

Following state requirements, the School Board approved policy 2194. This policy requires the district to automatically enroll students who meet or exceed the state standard on the eighth grade or high school English language arts, mathematics, or science statewide student assessment into the next most rigorous level of course or program in the sequence, as offered by the high school, in accordance with RCW 28A.320.195. Students who do not meet or exceed state standards on the student assessments may also choose to enroll in the next most rigorous level of course or program in the sequence.

The district will also engage in racial equity analyses to determine additional criteria that will be used to trigger automatic enrollment. This use of additional criteria to identify student readiness for rigorous coursework is in alignment with the Advanced Learning Department’s use of multiple criteria to identify students for Highly Capable services.

In implementing this policy for the 2022-23 school year, eligible 9th and 11th grade students and their families received notification about the automatic enrollment and the opt-out process in late August. Students have until 10 days after the start of school to request course changes.

Frequently Asked Questions on Rigorous Course Policy 2194

What exactly does state law require?

State law RCW 28A.320.195 requires that:

  • Students who meet or exceed the state standard on the English language arts statewide student assessment are eligible for enrollment in advanced courses in English, social studies, humanities, and other related subjects.
  • Students who meet or exceed the state standard on the mathematics statewide student assessment are eligible for enrollment in advanced courses in mathematics.

In addition, OSPI has issued guidelines that state this policy requires:

  • Automatic enrollment for high school students in the next most rigorous level of advanced courses or programs based on their performance on the statewide assessments in 8th grade and high school.
  • The assessment results on the statewide 8th grade and high school tests be used to inform the courses a student is automatically enrolled in. Students who meet or exceed the standard on the ELA portion are eligible for enrollment in advanced courses in English, social studies, humanities, and other related subjects. Students who meet or exceed the standard on the math portion are eligible for enrollment in advanced courses in math.

How will I know for what subject areas I am eligible for rigorous course placement? Where do I find my state test scores from this spring?

SPS staff will provide the subject areas for which your students are eligible. We plan to share detailed test results with students and families by September 10.

What does this mean for my student?

For your student this generally means that because they demonstrated proficiency on the Math state test and/or the ELA state tests in the spring,

they will be enrolled in the most rigorous course option (e.g., Honors, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate) in the appropriate subject area if it is available at their school.

there will not be a change to their schedule if they are already enrolled in the most rigorous option available at their school.
Please note that this only applies to the content areas in which your student demonstrated proficiency on the state test per state law.

To know specifically what this means for your student, on which tests they met standard, whether it will result in a schedule change, and what specific course options are available, please reach out to staff at your school. Your student’s counselor/mentor/advisor will likely know the most about the options. Thus, the opt-out survey deadline of this Tuesday does not mean this is the final opportunity to request changes – we are asking for responses by Tuesday so that school registrars have time to make changes before the start of school to the extent possible.

Is Tuesday, August 30 the last opportunity make course requests?

No, the opt-out survey deadline of this Tuesday does not mean this is the final opportunity to request changes. While counselors, advisors, mentors, and registrars may be hard to reach in the coming week given their preparation for the start of school, you will have time up until and even after the start of school to make requests for course changes. Per district procedure, students have until 10 days after the start of school to request course changes.

Why are you asking for responses by August 30?

We are asking for responses by Tuesday so that school registrars have time to make changes before the start of school to the extent possible.

What are the rigorous course options at each SPS high school?

The staff at your child’s high school will know best what options are available. At the 9th grade level, some high schools offer Honors courses. At the 11th grade, schools offer different advanced course options including Honors, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and College in the High School. Please reach out to your school’s staff to find out the details.

What do I need to do next?

Please complete the opt out form if you definitely do not want your student automatically enrolled in any Honors, AP, or IB section at your school.