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    Science and 24 Credits: High School and Beyond at Seattle Public Schools
    Posted on 10/11/2018
    Two students work together in a classrooom

    Science and 24 Credits: High School and Beyond at Seattle Public Schools

    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 Standards, also known as the Next Generation Science and Engineering Standards (NGSS).

    The increase in science credits and the assessment requirement are steps towards sowing the seeds of diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields (STEM) by better supporting our students of color, who are underrepresented in these fields. With STEM professions taking the lead in Seattle’s professional market, more jobs are expected to open.1 By focusing on more K-12 learning opportunities in science, the district is taking purposeful approaches to provide students with impactful learning experiences in STEM. These efforts ensure that students’ interests in the STEM fields are supported so they can choose careers in these competitive fields.

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

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

    The science requirement extends up to 11th grade, but for students that want to take additional science courses in 12th grade, they can take advantage of additional science classes to supplement their education.

    The science courses will all be aligned to NGSS to help prepare students with content knowledge and skills to be successful. In addition to aligned standards, the courses are embedded with practice assessments that are aligned to the WCAS.

    The Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction department will work schools who have unique pathways to support their course sequencing needs.

    Students wanting to take additional electives will not be disrupted. Under the new requirement, they will take two years of core requirements of science, and in the third year, students and their parents can select electives with guidance from teachers and counselors. Note that multiple pathways are possible in the 11th grade year. AP/IB courses in science may substitute for Chemistry B and/or Physics B. Students also have the option to substitute the Chemistry B and/or Physics B requirement with science electives or CTE courses.

    For more information on the 24-credit requirement, please refer to our FAQ and video. For more information on the ongoing developments around high school science, and how it will complement high school and beyond, please read our Science Curriculum Alignment page.

    1 Supplementary data are available on the Washington STEM website (

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